Advocates for the defense for over 40 years!
Assembly Public Safety Committee on Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras:
Policies and Pitfalls
This morning at the State Capitol CACJ President Jeff Thoma participated
in a panel discussion regarding the use of body cameras by law enforcement.
The legislative informational hearing was convened by the Assembly Public
Safety Committee chaired by Assemblyman Bill Quirk. The hearing consisted
of testimony by a number of experts from law enforcement and civil rights
organizations. Jeff Thoma addressed a number of key legal issues involved
in the potential use of body cameras.
recorded session here.
“We Need to Talk About an Injustice…”
"In an engaging and personal talk — with cameo appearances from
his grandmother and Rosa Parks — human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson
shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with
a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black
male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These
issues, which are wrapped up in America's unexamined history, are
rarely talked about with this level of candor, insight and persuasiveness."
Ted Talks on the Criminal Justice System
Recent Amicus Briefs filed by John Philipsborn, Amicus Committee Chair,
on behalf of CACJ
Exoneree Kirk Bloodsworth to Receive NCIP’s 2015 Cookie Ridolfi Freedom Award
Kirk Bloodsworth, the first death row inmate to be exonerated based on
DNA testing, will be honored at NCIP’s eighth annual
Justice for All awards dinner on March 12, 2015. In 1984, Bloodsworth was wrongfully convicted and sentenced
to death for the rape and murder of a young girl near Baltimore, Maryland.
He subsequently served almost 9 years in prison— two of those years
on death row. While Bloodsworth was facing execution in the early 1990s,
he learned about DNA testing and its ability to prove his innocence. With
the help from his attorney and supporters, the prosecution agreed to DNA
testing of the evidence from Bloodsworth’s case. The testing results
excluded Bloodsworth and matched the DNA of the actual perpetrator, Kimberly
Shay Ruffner. Bloodsworth was officially exonerated in 1993.
Since his exoneration, Bloodsworth has become an influential voice for
the wrongfully convicted on multiple fronts. He inspired the Kirk Bloodsworth
Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program, created by Congress in 2004, to help
defray the costs of DNA testing for those innocent people who still remain
Brady Violations Gain Judicial Attention as well as Proposed Solutions
CACJ's President, Jeff Thoma, was recently interviewed by John Roemer
for the Daily Journal regarding
Brady Violations. They discussed a "plan to rein in prosecutors who hide
favorable evidence from the defense in criminal trials [which] could be
gaining traction." Called A
Brady colloquy, during pretrial hearings, before the defendant enters a plea,
judges could ask prosecutors a short series of questions, on-the-record,
to determine if undisclosed exculpatory evidence exists.
Jeff Thoma remarked that "Brady violations [are] also on the state
Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantril-Sakayue's mind this month,"
and that in "meeting with [her] he pointed out that California is
the only state that has not adopted the American Bar Association's
model rule of professional conduct 3.8 on the special responsibilities
as a prosecutor. She assured me that her staff would review it, as we
all agreed that this was an issue that needs to be addressed in some manner."
Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Alex Kozinski supports the idea;
putting prosecutors on notice that withholding pro-defense material violates
"For Thoma, the Brady colloquy idea resonated. Jason Kreag, [a Law
Professor at the University of Arizona College of Law,] proposed that
if trial judges refuse to ask
Brady-oriented questions of the prosecutor, defense lawyers should put a statement
on the record about what material they requested and what they got in
For the complete article please go to:
CACJ is offering FREE Self-Study CLE for Members
CACJ’s seasoned attorneys have created our first Webinar Series!
These carefully chosen topics are designed to educate new attorneys learning
defense lawyer do’s and don’ts. These trainings offer valuable
insight and critical strategies to enhance your effectiveness as professional!
Learn to examine, evaluate, deconstruct and reconstruct your case to deliver
insight from the fact finder's perspective.
Each webinar is worth 1 self-study MCLE and is offered to CACJ members for free.
See here for more information.
Clemency Project 2014
Volunteer Attorneys Needed to Support Clemency Project:
In 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an initiative to entertain
petitions for clemency from federal inmates whose sentences would, due
to intervening changes in law or policy, be shorter had they been sentenced
today. Clemency Project 2014 seeks the assistance of your members in this
national pro bono effort to secure freedom for many federal inmates who
are serving unnecessarily harsh sentences for non-violent offences. CP
2014 is a working group comprised of lawyers and advocates including the
American Bar Association (ABA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), Federal Public and Community
Defenders, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
The goal is to recruit and train lawyers to participate in this project
by providing assistance to inmates who meet the stated criteria (which
are available at the CP 2014 website
At this very moment, Project staff has received more than 26,000 requests
for assistance from federal inmates, nearly 6,000 of which are currently
under attorney review to ascertain whether they meet criteria announced
by the DOJ. Although many of these inmates will not, it is likely that
hundreds, perhaps thousands, will. While some 1,500 attorneys have already
volunteered for the Project, the job cannot be completed without the help
of your members. Clemency Project 2014 assists volunteers by providing
(i) comprehensive online training, (ii) a complete set of resource materials
that complement the training, (iii) a panel of expert Resource Counsel
to answer technical, procedural and substantive questions, and (iv) Screening
Committee that will review attorney recommendations on individual cases.
And those who are CJA panel attorneys are not required to complete the
online, on-demand training, though many will find it helpful.
Please encourage your members to join this historic opportunity to reverse
the unduly harsh prison sentences that were imposed upon so many. To volunteer,
individuals should sign-up at
www.clemencyproject2014.org/volunteers/intro or send an email to
On Thursday, the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) released a new
comprehensive report showing a clear decline in death penalty sentences
-- here in California and across the country.
The report shows that the country has seen the lowest number of death sentences
in the last 40 years. And here in California, the vast majority of counties
no longer seek the death penalty in capital cases.
That's progress, but there's still a lot of work to do. We are
getting closer to eradicating a death penalty system that is broken beyond
repair, risks innocent lives, and wastes billions of taxpayer dollars.
But we won't stop until every county in California -- and every state
in the country -- stops using the death penalty.
This new DPIC report shows that momentum is on our side -- and we need
to make sure everyone knows it!
Click the link to share on your FAcebook Page and spread the news!
Now we know that our movement has made tremendous progress, changing hearts
and minds across the country. Below are some trends we've seen in
- Only 7 out of 58 counties sought the death penalty in 2014
- Less than a third of the counties sought the death penalty in the last 5 years
- Over half of new death penalty sentences in the state came from just 2
counties (LA and Riverside) over the last 5 years
CACJ on Capital Radio
Ignacio Hernandez, CACJ's policy director and founder of the Hernandez
Strategy Group, appeared on Capital Public Radio's
Insight with Beth Ruyakon 11/19. He discussed Prop. 47 and its effect on the community
and the judicial system. Joining Ignacio was Lenore Anderson, executive
director of the Californians for Safety and Justice.
Insight With Beth Ruyak
is a daily, in-depth interview program providing context and background
to the issues that face our region.
Visit here to listen to the recording