"It is an exciting time to be a part of CACJ in this changing landscape of criminal justice . The resulting sea-change is the result of budgetary woes from inflated prison sentences. I am inspired every time I attend a meeting and learn of the efforts members make on behalf of the accused without compensation or commendation to put "rehabilitation" back into the system which for so long just sought to warehouse those society deemed unsuitable. I am particularly hopeful that I can address the problems of elderly prisoners seeking compassionate release. No one should die in prison."

Oliver Cleary, Board Member

"CACJ is a family of criminal defense lawyers. We share knowledge, experience and affection. It is a mirror in which we bond with others like us to experience the best in law and lawyers. It is a message that we are not alone."

Ephraim Margolin, Past President & Founding Member

"Defense attorneys are warriors - for our clients and in defense of their constitutional rights.  We fight more effectively and successfully when we band together, when we support each other through out membership in, and commitment to, CACJ.  We gain strength in our often lonely fights for our clients from the men and women who are engaged in similar struggles for other defendants.  CACJ is a vital means to support one another."

Scott Sugarman, Past President

"CACJ is like a beacon in the distance through the fog and heavy mist.  It is where we will strive to meet and find our finest selves, where we will become the best lawyers we can be, and where we will work together to change the world and make it a better place for ourselves, our children, and most importantly, our clients."

John Crouch

"CACJ is an essential state-wide organization for all criminal defense attorneys.  The seminars, seminar materials, and Forum magazine are outstanding, addressing the latest issues and developments in criminal law, procedure and evidence.  All of the committees are accomplished and hardworking. The Legislative Committee and Ignacio is a prime example: an important and respected voice in the legislature continually achieving impressive results."

Robert Boyce

"It has been my pleasure to serve as President of CACJ. In that capacity I have met and worked with many people who are truly committed to the defense of others and the idea that there can and should be equal justice for all. Thank you for the opportunity."

Christopher Chaney, Past President

"CACJ has represented the interests of the defense bar and our clients for almost 40 years. Our legislative efforts, educational programs, amicus support, publications, just to mention a few, have been invaluable to my practice, to our members, and for all those who represent people accused of crime"

Alex Landon

To fight the horrors of class warfare, mass incarceration, and the torture of solitary confinement, we must stand together. We do this through our membership in the CACJ, the single most powerful state-based group of criminal defense lawyers in the nation. Join us. We're making a difference.

Jacqueline Goodman, CACJ Secretary

"The Brady bill is the latest example of CACJ's Leg Comm and Ignacio's group having unlimited creativity to overcome all obstacles and limitless tenacity to keep battling when lesser souls would give up on exhaustion. It is an honor and privilege to be allowed to work with all of you."

Steve Rease, CACJ Secretary

"For 40 years, CACJ has been a powerful voice for criminal defense attorneys and their clients. It has impacted laws that protect the rights of the convicted and accused and provided defense attorneys with education, advocacy  and community. CACJ's strength, purpose and longevity make it a cornerstone of criminal justice in California."

Laurel Headley

“We are the gladiators fighting to protect the liberty of the citizens who are investigated or accused of crimes. While most of us are sole practitioners, CACJ makes us into a powerful Criminal Defense law firm with the resources to even the playing field against the government. Whether it is the connections you make at the great seminars, the Brief Bank, the legislative updates and lobbying or what you learn at the seminars, it makes you a better warrior and therefore, helps your clients.”

David S. Kestenbaum, Board Member

"As criminal defense attorneys we regularly make difference in our individual clients’ lives. However, standing alone, our efforts only go that far. In order to bring about a real change to the criminal justice system, we must work together as a team. CACJ provides the framework for that cooperation. As Helen Keller once said: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Orchid Vaghti, Board Member

"There are countless pieces of catastrophic legislation dead on the floor of the legislature as the direct result of the dedicated, articulate and dogged work, over the years, of the CACJ Legislative Committee and our lobbyists."

Jefferey R. Stein, Past President

"California Attorneys for Criminal Justice is the home for those attorneys in California who understand and truly appreciate the liberties and freedoms recognized by our Founding Fathers and embodied in the United States Constitution. More importantly, these women and men of the bar recognize that these inalienable rights enunciated in the Constitution will be ignored, belittled and ultimately stolen from us by the state without champions taking a stand -- this is who we are -- this is who YOU are!"

Jonathan Willis

"Strength comes from unity.  CACJ is a great criminal defense organization of public and private defense attorneys who are joined for self-education, mutual support, making our collective voices known, and continuing the historic, continuing struggle for justice for the accused."

Chuck Sevilla, Past President

"For over 30 years CACJ has provided me with access to the leading criminal defense practitioners in California, and the opportunity to know about and respond to pending legislation - which I otherwise would not have had."

The Late Michael Millman, Past President

"Being a member of CACJ is belonging to dedicated, professional community that has a very tangible effect on the lives of our clients and the public who benefit from our efforts to keep the government accountable and works together to ensure that the citizen's privacy rights, due process and concepts of fundamental fairness are protected and strengthened. Training, outreach and legislative advocacy are cornerstones of CACJ's 40 years."

Matthew Guerrero, CACJ President

"CACJ has been the key guide to my becoming a more effective and inventive advocate for the clients I serve, by offering the great minds and strategists of our craft as inspiring mentors."

Jefferey R. Stein, Past President

"CACJ's great contribution to criminal justice is our work in the Legislature. As a member of the Legislative Committee since 1984, I have seen our organization become a real power for justice in the Legislature. CACJ is now a sought-after voice in the Legislature and our view on bills is given serious weight by Legislators and their staff. Yes, a lot of bad bills have become bad law. But brother, you should see the stuff CACJ has stopped. And many times, CACJ was the only organized opposition to these terrible, terrible bills. "

Steve Rease, CACJ Treasurer

"CACJ is the organization that is pushing back against unreasonable laws and unjust treatment for people accused of crimes. Because of the state of the law, criminal defense work is a tough, Sisyphean endeavor. My colleagues at CACJ give me the inspiration and strength I need to zealously push that boulder up a hill over and over again. Because of them, I remember that there is strength in numbers and solace in camaraderie."

Cris Lamb, CACJ Vice-President

"There is nothing better that I could do to advance the interests of the clients and the criminal defense bar than by being an active member of CACJ. "

Jefferey R. Stein, Past President

"CACJ is important to the criminal defense bar and to the personal rights and liberties of everyone in California. CACJ's presence in Sacramento is unmatched and often is the only voice to promote or defeat bills before the State Legislature.  CACJ provides the highest quality Seminars and Webinars to educate practitioners and to give them a sense of community. CACJ also conducts the National Trial Advocacy Competition which attracts teams from law schools all over the country."

Robert Sanger

"I have always been inspired and assisted by my colleagues in CACJ. I first got involved in CACJ by testifying and help refining the first California DNA laws almost 25 years ago, and was so moved that CACJ had taken the lead in the legislative testimony on the proposed DNA Act, I became actively involved. Our legislative and amicus presence, as well as our FORUM magazine, have only become stronger over time. I am more impressed than ever that a private organization like ours is generally the strongest voice, and often the only voice, on issues crucial to criminal defense."

Jeff Thoma, Past President 2015

"It is such an honor to be part of CACJ and to watch the heroic efforts of CACJ members fighting to achieve fairness in our legal system.  When I first joined the Board I had no idea about the incredible efforts and success CACJ advocates make on a daily basis throughout our great state.  The collective wisdom of the outstanding attorneys that comprise the CACJ Board is inspiring and makes me a better attorney and citizen.  The efforts and support of CACJ members ensures the protection  of liberty and justice for all."

Deedra Edgar, Board Member

"As defense counsel is the accused's friend in court, CACJ is the accused's friend in the Legislature. By lobbying together for shorter sentences and fewer crimes, we can make our state more just, and our world more free."

Jesse Stout, Board Member

2016 CACJ/CPDA's Capital Case Defense Seminar: Register On-Site- Spaces Still Available

Join CACJ at the largest criminal defense seminar this year. This year's CCDS will include sessions addressing murder and felony charges in addition to capital cases.

On-Site Registration will be open on:
Friday. February 12th, from 12:00pm-5:00pm &
Saturday, February 13th, from 8:00am-5:00pm

Earn up to 18.75 hours of MCLE.

Visit ccdseminar.com for more information.


IN THE PRESS: Gov. Brown releases the initiative language on The Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act of 2016.

"Authorizes parole consideration for nonviolent inmates who complete the full sentence for their primary offense. Allows inmates to earn credits for good behavior, education and rehabilitative achievement. Requires judges rather than prosecutors to decide whether juveniles as young as 14-years-old should be tried as adults.

California’s prisons are under a court-ordered population cap, the prison population is expected to grow, and there are almost 5,000 inmates housed in out-of-state prisons. Without further action, the court will order the release of prisoners. This initiative—through its nonviolent parole and earned-credit provisions—will help ensure that any release of rehabilitated inmates is consistent with public safety.

Currently, prosecutors often must decide within 48 hours whether a juvenile should be charged as an adult. The initiative will require a judge, instead of a prosecutor, to carefully review all of the circumstances and make the decision."

View here.


IN THE NEWS: CACJ Speaks Out on Peremptory Challenges

Gov. Brown recently released a budget that included a reduction in peremptory challenges in misdemeanor trials from 10 to 6. The California Judges Association and the California Judicial Council support Brown’s proposal, stating that it’s necessary for "court efficiency", saving personal resources of jurors, and that 47 other states offer 6 or less peremptory challenges and still uphold due process.

CACJ has long fought proposals to reduce peremptory challenges, including a bill last year. CACJ President Matt Guerrero was interviewed by the Daily Journal for the story.

Jeff Adachi, San Francisco’s elected Public Defender, also spoke out against both the proposed reduction and comments from the parties in favor, arguing peremptory challenges proposals have failed numerous times in the Legislature and that it “attacks the diversity of jurors and usurps trial lawyers’ ability to choose unbiased juries.”

Read Daily Journal article here.


The U.S. Supreme Court Makes Retroactive the Ban on Juvenile Life-Without-Parole Sentences

In 2012, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling in Miller v. Alabama, which holds that life-without-parole sentences for all children under 18 convicted of homicide are unconstitutional. Before this ruling, juveniles convicted of homicide could be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, but the recognition that kids are less culpable than adults because of their immaturity and impulsiveness, and that they have a higher likeliness of rehabilitation, caused the Supreme Court to issue the ruling against this cruel and unusual punishment.

Although most States applied Miller v. Alabama retroactively, several did not. However, "[the] decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana now requires all states to apply Miller retroactively, which means that in Louisiana, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Colorado, hundreds of people who were sentenced to die in prison for crimes when they were children are now entitled to new sentencing hearings.”

See full article here.


NEWS OUTLET: California Death Penalty Poll Shows Dropping Support

A field poll released on Friday shows 47 percent of voters favor replacing the death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole, an increase from a poll taken in 2014, while support for accelerating the process has dropped since last year. Though there is a clear tossup between both measures, there is a consensus among the public that the system is broken and a decision on either doing away with the death penalty or speeding up the process is necessary.


Michael Cherry, the Executive Director of Death Penalty Focus, who is pushing for the measure to abolish capital punishment, says "We are confident that when Californians learn the facts they will vote to end this failed experiment with the death penalty and replace it with justice that works."

According to both campaigns, if both measures are approved in November, the one with the most votes would settle the death penalty question in California for now.

See article here


Sacramento Hearing on Lethal Injection

The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) will be holding a hearing about the state's new lethal injection rules.

Notice of proposed regulations here.

If you'd like to attend the meeting, please email David Crawford, the Director of Community Outreach and Education for Death Penalty Focus, to get details about the event: david@deathpenalty.org.
If you cannot make hearing in Sacramento, you can submit a comment online by clicking here.

PUBLIC HEARING:

Date and Time: January 22, 2016 - 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Place: Department of Health Care Services

East End Complex - The Auditorium
1500 Capitol Avenue Sacramento, CA 95814


Governor Brown Announces Mary McComb as State Public Defender

Mary McComb, 58, of Davis, has been appointed state public defender in the Office of the State Public Defender, where she has served as supervising deputy state public defender since 2010 and was deputy state public defender from 1992 to 2010. McComb was an associate at Kelman Loria from 1990 to 1991, an attorney at the Community Law Center from 1987 to 1990 and a teacher at the Commonwealth High School from 1983 to 1984. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from Stanford Law School. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $153,953.88. McComb is a Democrat.
Press release here.

Panel Releases Review on O.C. D.A. Office

After a six-month investigation, a committee of legal experts, hand-picked by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, releases a report that states there are “serious deficiencies” in supervision and training in the District Attorney’s Office, leading to a “win-at-all-cost” mentality among some prosecutors.

The committee goes on to recommend specific changes to the operations of the DA's office which includes, "no longer embedding gang prosecutors with special police units."

CACJ has been fighting against prosecutorial misconduct and sponsored AB 1328 by Assemblymember Shirley Weber (San Diego), in response to the OC jailhouse informant scandal. The bill, which went into effect this year on January 1, requires prosecutors who intentionally withhold evidence to be reported to the State Bar of California, and strengthens existing law to disqualify an individual prosecutor or an entire office from a case.

Read more from the OC Register

Article in SFGate pays homage to Lou Katz

Louis Katz, a criminal defense and civil rights lawyer whose clients in five decades of practice included folk singer Pete Seeger and a defendant in the last death penalty case tried in San Francisco, died Dec. 2 at his home in Oakland, his family said. He was 92.

Read more from the SF Gate.

Founding CACJ member, and its fourth President, Lou Katz, died last week. He was 92. For many, Lou was a mentor, inspiration, and friend. He was a leader. He was the shining example of how to be a standup criminal defense attorney and defender of civil liberty.

Lou accomplished so much in his life that those details will have to await for another forum. But of all his accomplishments, Lou was proudest of helping to found CACJ in 1973. He helped CACJ fill a huge vacuum in criminal justice and was a leader in making the organization effective in teaching young trial lawyers trial skills and, on the larger scale, in its pursuit of legislative advocacy. That is why CACJ has been the defense voice in the ongoing justice dialogue.

Lou was active in CACJ until the very end. He helped with the very latest edition of the Contempt Manual. Best known for his years of work in San Diego, Lou moved to San Francisco to take over Charlie Garry’s practice after he died.

Just five years ago in December of 2010, CACJ awarded Lou its Lifetime Achievement Award for all that he contributed to the defense of the accused as the organization. We shall miss our friend and fellow warrior.

by Chuck Sevilla, CACJ Past President


Death Penalty Initiative Title and Summary Released

The Justice that Works Act of 2016- Eliminating the Death Penalty

This proposed initiative would prevent a person from being sentenced to death in California. Those currently sentenced to death would have their sentence changed to life without the possibility of parole. In addition, the initiative would require inmates to work in prison and increase the amount of victim restitution that can be removed from wages. See the initiative language here.

The Attorney General recently released the initiative Title and Summary. The AG tagged the initiative as a $150 million savings annually for the state and local government. The proponents have until May 17th to gather enough signatures to officially qualify for the November 2016 ballot. For additional background information, you can see the non-partisan fiscal analysis of the initiative here.

Upcoming Events


Capital Case Defense Seminar
February 12 - 15, 2016
Hilton San Diego Bayfront
San Diego, CA


MCLE - Behind The Curtain:
Join Us at the State Capitol to
Learn About 2016's New Criminal Laws

Free MCLE for Current CACJ Members!

Friday, February 26, 2016
12:15 pm - 1:30 pm
California State Capitol, Room 444


CACJ Calendar


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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, emails, or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information on this website is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing of this information does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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