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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.