"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

"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

"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

“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

"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

"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 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 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

"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

"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 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

"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

"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

"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

"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

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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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 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

CACJ Co-Sponsored Bill Passes Senate Floor Vote

Last week, CACJ's co-sponsored bill, SB 1242 authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, passed the Senate Floor 30-8. In 2014, CACJ co-sponsored SB 1310 which added Penal Code 18.5 to reduce the maximum misdemeanor penalty by one day from 365 to 364 to avoid adverse immigration consequences for low-level misdemeanor crimes. This one-day change corrected a glitch between California criminal and federal immigration laws, which led to families being torn apart because of deportation. SB 1242 makes this one-day change retroactive.

CACJ calls on our members to end the death penalty in California by supporting the Justice that Works Act of 2016.

Justice That Works 2016 is gearing up for a statewide vote in November. Please support the measure by DONATING to the campaign. This is our moment to make history.

  • Eliminates the possibility of executing an innocent person
  • Saves $1 billion dollars over the next 7 years
  • Serious offenders must work and pay restitution to victim’s families

Registration ends this Friday:
CACJ's Criminal Law Hands-On Series: Incorporating Themes & Theories

CACJ's Criminal Law Hands-On Series:
Incorporating Themes & Theories

May 7th, 2016
Cal Western School of Law
San Diego, CA

This unique workshop is the third in CACJ's "hands on" training seminar series, which include participation by all attendees at every level. Our faculty will be demonstrating how to incorporate a theme throughout all the key segments of a jury trial, from motions through closing argument, and teaching how to have it resonate with your jury.

Throughout the day each participant will use a given fact pattern and engage in exercises that are constructively critiqued by our faculty in small breakout sessions, learning by trial and error the best methods that will work for their own clients in their own cases.

CACJ/NACDL's Annual Forensic Science Seminar in Las Vegas

"Making Sense of Science:
Forensic Science & the Law"

The Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
May 18-21, 2016

Big Names. Big Science, Big CLE--a Big Experience.

Join your nationwide NACDL colleagues in Las Vegas at the premiere venue--The Cosmopolitan Hotel--for NACDL's 9th Annual Forensic Science & the Law Conference, "Making Sense of Science." This two-day event is produced in partnership with the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), and will be held in a conjunction with the NACDL Spring Board Meeting, and CACJ Board Meeting.

Don't miss this great opportunity for a no-nonsense, national networking CLE featuring the leading faculty in their respective fields. Register, and make your plans to attend TODAY!

CACJ submits an Amicus Brief in support of a right to advisement of immigration consequences

CACJ has joined with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, and a number of other organizations, in submitting an Amicus brief in the case of In re Patterson. CACJ has previously argued that defendants in criminal cases must be fully advised of potential adverse immigration consequences prior to entering a plea, and as they consider their legal options. It is critical for the defense bar to be fully aware of this obligation, and the need for reviewing courts to properly consider the prejudice of failures to address immigration consequences in an effective manner. Although this case is still in litigation, CACJ has previously briefed this issue and renews its support for ensuring that adverse immigration consequences are properly dealt with.

CACJ thanks Cody Harris and the Keker & Van Nest firm in San Francisco for its work on this case.

Read the Amicus Brief here.

Four of CACJ's bills passed out of committee!

AB 1909, authored by Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, would amend Penal Code 141, creating a felony for prosecuting attorneys who knowingly and intentionally withhold exculpatory evidence. This bill is a continuation of CACJ's push to highlight and address prosecutorial misconduct. The bill will head to Assembly Appropriations next.

SB 1202, authored by Senator Mark Leno, addresses California's felony sentencing scheme, which is set to expire on January 1, 2017, and the Cunningham v. California, 59 U.S. 270 (2007), decision. SB 1202 would provide that the court may not impose an upper sentence based on aggravating facts unless the facts were first presented to the jury and found to be true beyond a reasonable doubt. It would also require the court to state the reasons for its sentence choice on the record at the time of sentencing, including the specific facts in aggravation, if any, the court relied upon to impose an upper term. The bill will head to Assembly Appropriations next.

SB 1242, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, would amend Penal Code 18.5 to make the law apply retroactively. In 2014, CACJ co-sponsored SB 1310, which lowered the maximum penalty for a misdemeanor by one day from 365 to 364 days. However, SB 1310 language did not specifically state that the law applied retroactively. This bill would make clear that those persons that received a one-year misdemeanor means 364 days. This would have a massively positive effect on those persons that have been placed in deportation proceedings for a one-year misdemeanor, which is considered a felony for Federal immigration purposes. The bill will head to the Senate floor next for a full vote.

SB 1389, authored by Steven Glazer, would expand Penal Code 859.5, which requires the recording of a custodial interrogation, to all persons suspected of committing a crime of homicide. The bill will head to Senate Appropriations next.

Long Beach Post: CACJ co-sponsored Senate Bill 1242 aims to Prevent Unnecessary Deportation of Legal Immigrants for Misdemeanors

In 2014, CACJ's co-sponsored legislation Senate Bill 1310, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, a past CACJ legislator of the year recipient, was passed. SB 1310 protects citizens who have committed low-level misdemeanors from being deported by minimizing the maximum misdemeanor sentence from 365 to 364 days. SB 1310 aligned state and federal law, but solely on a prospective basis.

This year, CACJ is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 1242, authored by Senator Lara, which applies SB 1310 retroactively. CACJ's President Matthew Guerrero explains, "This legislation simply applies current law to all Californians regardless of how old these misdemeanor cases may be."

Read full article from the Long Beach Post here.

SB 1310

SB 1242

New Full-Color FORUM 42.4 is out, check your mailbox

CACJ is proud to announce an all new full-color FORUM has been published and is on its way to our membership. Members can also view the FORUM on-line in a digital FlippingBook here.

Featured Articles:

Death Penalty Committee Report: Dueling Death Penalty Initiatives
By Nancy Haydt, Esq. And Robert Boyce, Esq.

The Necessity of Recording Police Interviews: Accountability and Reliability
By Alexander Post, Esq.

The Dirty Harry Effect and The False Claim of A “War On Cops”
By Cris Lamb, Esq.

U.S. Supreme Court restricts forfeiture laws to protect right to counsel: CACJ co-filed Amicus brief in Luis case

The United States Supreme Court has issued a decision in Luis v. United States declaring federal forfeiture law in violation of the 6th Amendment Right to Counsel if forfeiture includes untainted assets and restricts ability to hire counsel. Over the last 5 years, CACJ has joined with other criminal defense lawyer organizations in contesting the Government's broad approach to the use of forfeiture laws to affect the ability of individuals to retain counsel of choice, and to conduct a privately funded defense where possible. In 2014, Chief Justice Roberts mentioned CACJ's briefing attacking the degradation of the Sixth Amendment in the dissent that he filed in Kaley v. United States 571 U.S.___(2014). This decision also has language that reinforces the right to counsel and the need to properly fund indigent defense. CACJ thanks Courtney Linn of the Orrick firm for fine work on this case.

Click Here for the Amicus Brief

Click Here for the Ruling

Upcoming Events

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

Free MCLE for Current CACJ Members!


CACJ's Criminal Law Hands-On Series: Incorporating Themes & Theories
May 7th, 2016
Cal Western School of Law
San Diego, CA

CACJ/NACDL's Annual Forensic Science Seminar
May 18-21, 2016
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV

CACJ Members register here for group discount!

CACJ Calendar

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