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CACJ Commends Governor Newsom for Bold Leadership Regarding Death Penalty
This morning Governor Gavin Newsom, flanked by many legislators including
past CACJ award recipients State Senator Holly Mitchell, State Senator
Scott Wiener, and Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, officially announced
his intention to sign an Executive Order to place a moratorium on executions
in California. CACJ congratulates the Governor for his courage, and thanks
all CACJ members who have been working toward this moment for too long.
Here is CACJ's official statement:
"CACJ applauds Governor Newsom for his courageous and insightful action
in calling for a moratorium on executions in California. Our state leads
the nation in the number of those condemned to death. Nearly a quarter
of all persons on death row in the U.S. are California prisoners awaiting
their execution at the hands of the State. The process takes decades amidst
a broken and costly system which disproportionately imposes the death
penalty upon the poor and persons of color, too many of whom are later
exonerated. Virtually every civilized country in the world has abolished
the use of death as a means of punishment for crime. As our enlightened
Governor has shown with this action, it is time for California to recognize
that the death penalty is ineffective, barabaric, and immoral, and it
has no place in our civilized society. There are too many stories of individuals
locked up in our prisons only to be exonerated years or decades later.
Our capital punishment system is broken beyond repair. CACJ will continue
to advocate for the full repeal of the death penalty. "
The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), a statewide association
of criminal defense attorneys in private practice and public defender
offices, issues a statement against President Trump's policy to separate
and incarcerate children:
"CACJ is appalled that the President of the United States of America
has singularly initiated a so-called "zero tolerance" policy
that has resulted in the mass separation and incarceration of children
as young as five. This policy is unnecessary and inhumane. The President's
abhorrent policy undermines the fundamental principles of human rights
and America's democratic principles."
Press Release here
Pro-Trump Television Ad Tries to Turn Americans Against Latinos
The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) issues the following
statement regarding the recent ad issued by the Trump Campaign :
Pro-Trump Television Ad Tries to Turn Americans Against Latinos
Over the years political campaigns have explored the depths of racial hatred
simply to bolster the election results of a particular candidate. Spending
millions of dollars on television ads to cultivate a generalized fear
against a particular race/ethnicity is abhorrent and intolerable. The
fact that such race-baiting is conducted to help a politician without
any regard for the damage it does to the individual members of the targeted
community is a disgrace and is itself a heinous act.
This past weekend’s ad by the Trump reelection committee is yet another
extreme example of racially charged messaging. It ascribes the act of
a single individual to an entire population. If you look like him, you
too are a threat to the safety of those around you. Imagine if every American
had to bear the responsibility and blame for all the crimes committed
by everyone who lives in your neighborhood simply because you share the
same zip code. Trump’s re-election ad is just as ludicrous and dangerous,
especially in light of the ongoing racially-tinged rhetoric we have heard
from Trump himself. The ad is also an attack on the criminal justice system
by suggesting that every time an individual is on trial, his/her entire
community may be found guilty too.
There is no place in American politics, or America, for such racially charged
attacks on communities of color, attacks that place the blame for one
person’s actions at the feet of others. The talents and accomplishment
of immigrants is central to the growth and greatness of America. We must
move past the outdated strategy to turn us against our neighbors simply
because of their racial/ethnic background.
The ad also continues the Trump strategy to reduce complex public policy
into racially charged soundbites designed to play on the deepest fears
of Americans. He is willing to govern from a political picture book that
relies on oversimplified taglines which confirm his one-dimensional, razor-thin
understanding of complex issues. America deserves better than this.
CACJ condemns this ad and calls for all of those who are as outraged as
we are to join us in condemning this outrageous appeal to the worst instincts
of those who it reaches.
SACRAMENTO – Today, after several years of vigorous litigation in a series
of cases that have been contested all the way to the United States Supreme
Court, the Sixth Amendment protection of the right to counsel, the right
retain counsel, and the right to counsel of choice, has been re-emphasized
in the face of the Government's repeated efforts to use forfeiture
laws to undermine it. In Luis v. United States___U.S.___ (March 30, 2016),
the USSC reversed the Eleventh Circuit and found that the Government's
restraint, through the forfeitures laws, of untainted assets intended
to be used to mount a defense is unconstitutional. And the Court did so
with language that provides reinforcement for the right to counsel that
recognizes the current problems with underfunding of the indigent defense
function. A number of criminal defense organizations have been involved
in these litigations, including CACJ and NACDL. A number of lawyers contributed
to the briefing including Courtney Linn and a team from Orrick, and John
Philipsborn, CACJ's amicus committee chair.
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). Given the aggressive position
that has been taken by the U.S. Justice Department in trying to restrict
the resources available to individuals to funds their defense, the criminal
defense and civil liberties communities were concerned to stem the tide,
and achieve recognition for the right of individuals to defend themselves
without Government interference. Criminal defense lawyers will be interested
in this outcome, and in the phrasing of the ruling.
MARCH 30, 2016
SACRAMENTO – California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) believes that
the public courthouse is a sacred place where prosecutors and defense
attorneys should be free to practice their respective professions with
honor and zeal in the pursuit of justice. In the sanctity of the courthouse,
no person should ever be intimidated or silenced by the threat of physical
aggression, particularly by one who represents the government.
We call for no rush to judgment. This is why we remain troubled by the
statements from the President of the Association of Orange County Deputy
Sheriffs, which represents both the involved DA investigator and the sheriffs,
immediately following the incident and thereafter. It should be of concern
to every fair-minded citizen that the president of the union responsible
for this investigation incredibly suggests that Attorney Crawford was
happy to have been beaten and disfigured as “a lawyer in search
of a pay day." Such comments are disgraceful, reflects poorly on
the very honorable members of the sheriff’s department and the district
attorney’s office, and all those who work toward justice.
Given that Attorney Crawford recently exposed the very DA's office
where Dillon Alley served as an investigator for failing to disclose important
facts in a murder case; and given that the injuries to Mr. Crawford were
severe and not self-inflicted; and because this occurred in the courthouse
by the District Attorney’s own investigator who appears to have
had no colorable authority to do so; we are likewise concerned over the
failure of the DA himself to denounce such violence, if any, by his staff,
especially in this context.
It is precisely this type of “circling the wagons,” lack of
transparency, and lack of clear leadership on behalf of the people of
Orange County that those who value justice rightly criticize.
CACJ, on the frontlines in the battle for equal justice, will not stand
by in silence. CACJ will be issuing a public records request in connection
with the evidence in this case, including any video.
We renew our call to have nothing less than a thorough, independent investigation.
And we renew our call to the District Attorney to take to ensure both
a climate of respect for all those who work toward justice, and a commitment
to ensuring it.
March 15, 2016
Maintaining the Status Quo on
Brady Violations is not a Sufficient Deterrent to Prevent a Growing National
"Epidemic" of Prosecutorial Misconduct
SACRAMENTO – The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a statewide association
of criminal defense attorneys, is disappointed with Governor Jerry Brown's
decision to veto Assembly Bill 885.
AB 885, CACJ sponsored bill, would have allowed a court, at its discretion,
to read a jury instruction when a prosecutor intentionally or knowingly
withheld evidence that may have prove the innocence of a defendant.
In Governor Brown's veto statement, he states that "prosectuorial
misconduct should never be tolerated." We agree wholeheartedly. Governor
Brown also writes, "under current law, judges have an array of remedies
at their disposal if discovery violation comes to light during trial."
CACJ cannot sit back and rely on the status quo. It is clear that many
judges do not regularly use whatever remedies the Governor referred to
and these remedies are insufficient deterrents. We know prosecutors continue
to strategically withhold evidence from the defense because
Brady violations persist and innocent individuals are being wrongfully imprisoned
in California. Unfortunately, prosecutors face little, if any, consequences.
Prosecutorial misconduct can happen to anyone. The possibility of one more
person being wrongfully convicted, such as Obie Anthony, should have tipped
the scales in favor of this moderate measure. Mr. Anthony was wrongfully
convicted of murder and attempted robbery in 1995. Mr. Anthony was sentenced
to life without the possibility of parole and spent 17 years in prison.
CACJ will continue fighting to protect the innocent and ensure justice
September 29, 2014