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It is our goal at California Attorneys for Criminal Justice to provide our members with the tools and information they need to better ensure justice in our criminal courts.

Why you should be a part of CACJ 2019 and beyond

CACJ is not just about MCLE’s – we are about fighting for JUSTICE. (it’s in our name)

Statewide professional organizations are often valued for their offerings of MCLE seminars. CACJ is no different. We ensure that criminal defense attorneys have access to cutting edge information to enhance their professional effectiveness. Each year CACJ membersreceive members-only discounts for our seminars and webinars. This includes seminars covering DUI, appellate, and our annual criminal law seminar in San Francisco where we bring leaders in our field to discuss forensics, evidence, trial techniques, and many other topics.

In 2019, CACJ is also launching a new series of webinars covering recently enacted California laws. The California Legislature, in recent years, has adopted some of the most sweeping criminal justice reform bills in the country. CACJ attorneys will receive critical information on these laws and be better prepared to fight for their clients.

However, CACJ is about more than just MCLE’s. We are a voice – your voice – in the fight for social justice. In light of the current political climate, it is vital that criminal defense attorneys organize and harness our power. CACJ speaks up and fights for justice -- we are not afraid to challenge local, county, state or national leaders.

CACJ Legislative accomplishments – in the past five years CACJ has officially opposed or supported more than 500 bills in Sacramento, and sponsored dozens more.

Prosecutorial Misconduct | Police Misconduct | Crim Law/Immigration | Wrongfully Accused | Drug Transportation | Rap Sheets | Bail Reform | Amicus Briefs

In the words of 2015 CACJ President Scott Sugarman, “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 our 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.”

Membership is vital to support CACJ's programs and initiatives.


Prosecutorial Misconduct:

CACJ has been at the forefront of fighting against prosecutorial misconduct.

CACJ, with Barry Scheck and the Innocence Project, launched a campaign to rewrite the State Bar ethical rules for prosecutors. We were the first to reach out to the California Supreme Court to initiate a review of the issue. After a long administrative process, a new rule was adopted.

CACJ sponsored two bills signed into law on prosecutorial misconduct. Under the first, judges are required to report to the State Bar prosecutors who have intentionally withheld evidence in a case. The legislation makes clear that both an individual prosecutor and an entire DA’s office can be disqualified from handling a case due to Brady violations. This was a contentious issue in the recent Orange County scandal.

CACJ also sponsored AB 1909 making it a FELONY for a prosecutor to intentionally withhold exculpatory evidence. This is a first-of-its-kind law that went into effect in 2017.

Police Misconduct

CACJ co-sponsored AB 256 making it a felony for a peace officer to destroy or alter VIDEO/ELECTRONIC EVIDENCE. This bill was in response to incidents of police officers confiscating cell phones and deleting videos of police misconduct captured by the public.

CACJ co-sponsored AB 2634 that allows for plaintiffs in excessive force lawsuits to request department-wide reforms as part of available injunctive relief.

Crim Law/Immigration

CACJ led the fight to reduce all maximum 1-year misdemeanors to 1 year minus 1 day – this change ends the practice of immigration courts from treating these offenses as felonies for purposes of deportation proceedings.

CACJ joined a coalition of immigrant rights organizations to successfully pursue legislation that creates a statutory motion to pursue post-conviction withdrawal of a guilty or no contest
plea. This motion would be available to individuals who are in immigration proceedings in part based upon a prior plea.

Wrongfully Accused

CACJ joined with another organization to co-host legislative briefings on wrongful convictions. Several exonerees were invited to speak to legislators and their staff about their cases. CACJ also successfully co-sponsored bill SB 1050 to provide transitional services for exonerees, including the provision of gate money, automatic enrollment into Medi-Cal, and access to job training.

Drug Transportation

CACJ put an end to the long-standing practice of prosecutors filing drug transportation charges against individuals who are in possession of narcotics for personal use but who happen to be in transit. The bill, AB 721, which was signed into law, now prohibits individuals who are in possession for personal use from being charged/convicted of drug transportation.

Rap Sheets

Many defense attorneys are denied immediate access to rap sheets of their clients or key witnesses. CACJ sponsored legislation, AB 2133, to rewrite California law specifically granting defense attorneys, including juvenile and appellate counsel, access to the DOJ rap sheet. This bill takes effect January 2019.

Bail Reform

CACJ supported the initial SB 10 legislation to eradicate unaffordable cash bail. CACJ was the first organization to officially oppose the amendments made to SB 10 that allows a judge to utilize “preventive detention” to deny release of our clients. CACJ actively lobbied legislators against this provision and took an “oppose unless amended” position. CACJ was the only criminal defense attorney organization to take an official stand against this provision.

Amicus Brief

McDonough v. Smith: Plaintiff-Appellant brought a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claim alleging that his right to due process was violated because fabricated evidence was used against him in a state criminal proceeding. CACJ filed an amicus brief arguing that the Second District court decision forces criminal defendants to pursue unripe claims which encourages “piecemeal litigation” and undermines the defendant’s Fifth Amendment privilege and exposes the basis of the defense to the prosecution.

Chandler v. Mississippi: Joey Montrell Chandler was convicted for the murder of his cousin and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Upon the time of the murder, Chandler was seventeen years, six months and thirteen days old. CACJ filed an amicus brief arguing the sentence should be reviewed and reversed due to the juvenile age at the time the crime was committed. CACJ argued courts should be required to find whether a juvenile is irreparably corrupt before imposing this sentence to reduce the number of cases where life without parole is potentially applicable and to bring uniformity to the sentencing.

Facebook, Inc. v. Superior Court: Lance Touchstone was charged with attempted murder of a victim. Touchstone believed nonpublic content on the victim’s Facebook page might provide helpful evidence for trial and served Facebook with a subpoena for the subscriber records and contents of the Facebook account. Facebook filed a motion to quash the subpoena on the ground the Stored Communications Act (SCA) prohibited this disclosure. CACJ argued this information may need to be provided to preserve the fundamental fairness of trials, provide clarity in how SCA is applied and expand People v. Facebook (Hunter) to avoid prejudicial impact when information under the SCA has not been obtained by the prosecution.



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