California Attorneys for Criminal Justice is the criminal defense lawyer
organization for the State of California, it has been active for 45 years
and was founded in 1973. It is the affiliate of the National Association
of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
From the beginning, CACJ took on the role of advocating for criminal defense
lawyers and for their clients. The Amicus Committee, started by Ephraim
Margolin and now Chaired by John Philipsborn and Stephen Dunkle, has been
tireless in filing briefs on behalf of CACJ as
amicus curie in countless causes. Over 50 cases in which CACJ participated resulted
in published decisions, many vindicating important rights on the part
of the accused.
CACJ also took an early and active role in proposing legislation and lobbying
to defeat the perennial, and often counterproductive, "tough on crime"
legislation so often proposed by politicians. To this day, the CACJ Legislative
Committee, currently Co-Chaired by Eric Schweitzer & Steven Munkelt,
is one of the most active parts of the organization. Through our CACJ
legislative strategist, Ignacio Hernandez, the Committee and CACJ make
a tremendous impact on legislation in Sacramento.
From the beginning, CACJ started and has continued to provide the highest
quality and most informative Continuing Legal Education for criminal defense
lawyers in this State. Seminars Chair Jeff Thoma and his team, now put
on several regular seminars each year, including the much anticipated
Annual Seminar in San Francisco, the DUI Seminar in Palm Springs, and
the joint seminars with CPDA in Monterey/San Diego for Capital Case Defense,
and with NACDL in Las Vegas for Forensics. This year CACJ is making a
special effort to broaden the education of newer lawyers, through its
New Lawyers Division. There are tracks in current seminars for "101"
overviews and there will be a basic criminal law seminar in the Spring
just for this purpose.
CACJ has also been a strong advocate for the end of the Death Penalty.
The Death Penalty Committee, currently Co-Chaired by Bob Boyce and James
Thomson, meets regularly to deal with capital case issues. The Committee
has met with the Chief Justice to help develop court policies and has
put on regional CLE trainings on capital case issues. CACJ works closely
with affilliate organization, Death Penalty Focus (DPF), and other organizations
to help effect a political end to capital punishment.
The CACJ office is located in Sacramento which runs the day to day activities
of the organization. The Executive Director Ignacio Hernandez and staff
also help channel the tremendous energy of the members of the Board of
Governors, the Committees and the active members of CACJ in general who
help make this organization as powerful as it is.
There is a rich history to this organization and there are many tangible
results of the hard work of the members. However, one of the most significant
attributes of CACJ is that it is an organization of people who share a
mission. CACJ members stand up for people who often do not have much of
a voice. Members fight to achieve the goal of requiring that the system
show respect to each and every person who is accused. CACJ, as the California
criminal defense lawyer organization, stands up for its members to help
each of them achieve that goal.
We, the members of CACJ, are proud of our 45 year history and are committed
to continuing this tradition in the years to come.