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Founding Members

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed...

U.S. Constitution, Amendment VI

In 1973 George Porter, tired of seeing the needs of criminal defense lawyers ignored, wrote a letter to the criminal defense attorneys throughout California proposing a statewide criminal defense organization. In September, the following defense lawyers met to discuss the need for such an organization, and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice was born!

California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Gratefully Recognizes our Founding Members for Their Insight and Motivation in Establishing the First State-Wide Association for Criminal Defense Attorneys to Improve the Criminal Justice System.

Proudly Protecting the U.S. Constitution for 45 Years!

Richard Alexander, San Jose
Jules Bonjour, Hayward
Marvin S. Cahn, Beaverton Oregon
Ramon Castro, San Diego
The Late Richard Erwin
The Late Paul J. Fitzgerald
Albert Caesar Garber, Los Angeles
The Late Charles Garry
Martha Goldin, Los Osos
Gerson Horn, Los Angeles
The Late Louis S. Katz, Oakland
John W. Kennedy, Jr., Laguna Beach
Matthew Kurilich, Tustin
Ephraim Margolin, San Francisco

Michael McClure, Santa Ana
Luke McKissack, Los Angeles
Dennis G. Merenbach, Santa Barbara
James H. Newhouse, Monterey
The Late George Porter
Sheldon Portman, Las Vegas Nevada
Robert Roberson, Pasadena
Harriet Ross, San Francisco
Marshall Schulman, San Francisco
Spencer Strellis, Oakland
Barry Tarlow, Los Angeles
Gerald Francis Uelmen, Santa Clara
George Walker, San Francisco
Howard L. Weitzman, Santa Monica


CACJ Honors our Founder, George Porter

In 1973 George Porter, tired of seeing the needs of criminal defense lawyers ignored, wrote a letter to the criminal defense attorneys throughout California proposing a statewide criminal defense organization. In September of that year, a group of defense lawyers met to discuss the need for such an organization, and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice was born.

This March marks the 10th anniversary of George's passing. We hope that he would have been proud of all that CACJ has accomplished since he founded this organization 45 years ago.

Updated 3.5.18


In 1973, I received a letter from George Porter inviting all “criminal defense” lawyers to a meeting at the San Francisco Airport. Some seventy “name“ lawyers received this invitation. Fifty-six lawyers of showed up for the meeting. This was the first time I met [George Porter].

Porter chaired our first meeting. He asked every person in attendance to speak for one minute to state whether we favored the creation of a criminal defense bar? At the time, the only organization we knew catered to civil or political ends. He articulated the voice of the criminal defense. It was a simple, but profound, question; did we want to join forces to balance the judicial-prosecutorial dialogue? Fifty-Six yes answers followed.

At the second meeting, he chaired a debate about our name, our by-laws, our dues, our functions and our structure. We spent over one hour debating the name. Some of us wanted to emphasize “criminal defense bar.” Some questioned the word “criminal.” Some argue for “bar association.” Some argue for the more fundamental concept of “justice.” Tt took an hour to iron out “California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.” Not a “bar”, not an “association”. Just “attorneys” for “criminal justice”.

Porter called for election of our first president Dennis Merenbach of Santa Barbara, Paul Fitzgerald Beverly Hills and Ephraim Margolin of San Francisco, were nominated. Charles Gerry did not want to run. He would become our 1979 President. George Porter declined the nomination. He would be our third president, in 1976. Ephraim Margolin was elected.

And so was the evening and so was the morning of day one for the CACJ.

By Ephraim Margolin

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