"CACJ Membership is the cornerstone of consistent policy shifts in Sacramento and Nationwide. Your decision to join CACJ reflects not only your commitment to Criminal Justice for all, denied to none. Your Membership insures that CACJ will continue to deliver meaningful impact upon legal opinions and statutes year after year. CACJ's several Committees, including Legislative and Amicus, foster landmark laws and opinions that you can open up a code or case book and use."

Eric Schweitzer, CACJ Vice President 2019

"CACJ's great contribution to criminal justice is our work in the Legislature. As a member of the Legislative Committee since 1984, I have seen our organization become a real power for justice in the Legislature. CACJ is now a sought-after voice in the Legislature and our view on bills is given serious weight by Legislators and their staff. Yes, a lot of bad bills have become bad law. But brother, you should see the stuff CACJ has stopped. And many times, CACJ was the only organized opposition to these terrible, terrible bills. "

Steve Rease, CACJ Past President 2018

"For over 30 years CACJ has provided me with access to the leading criminal defense practitioners in California, and the opportunity to know about and respond to pending legislation - which I otherwise would not have had."

The Late Michael Millman, Past President 1984

“We are the gladiators fighting to protect the liberty of the citizens who are investigated or accused of crimes. While most of us are sole practitioners, CACJ makes us into a powerful Criminal Defense law firm with the resources to even the playing field against the government. Whether it is the connections you make at the great seminars, the Brief Bank, the legislative updates and lobbying or what you learn at the seminars, it makes you a better warrior and therefore, helps your clients.”

David S. Kestenbaum, Board Member 2012-2017

"Being a member of CACJ is belonging to dedicated, professional community that has a very tangible effect on the lives of our clients and the public who benefit from our efforts to keep the government accountable and works together to ensure that the citizen's privacy rights, due process and concepts of fundamental fairness are protected and strengthened. Training, outreach and legislative advocacy are cornerstones of CACJ's 40 years."

Matthew Guerrero, Past President 2016

"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 out 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."

Scott Sugarman, Past President 2014

"I have always been inspired and assisted by my colleagues in CACJ. I first got involved in CACJ by testifying and help refining the first California DNA laws almost 25 years ago, and was so moved that CACJ had taken the lead in the legislative testimony on the proposed DNA Act, I became actively involved. Our legislative and amicus presence, as well as our FORUM magazine, have only become stronger over time. I am more impressed than ever that a private organization like ours is generally the strongest voice, and often the only voice, on issues crucial to criminal defense."

Jeff Thoma, Past President 2015

"Strength comes from unity.  CACJ is a great criminal defense organization of public and private defense attorneys who are joined for self-education, mutual support, making our collective voices known, and continuing the historic, continuing struggle for justice for the accused."

Chuck Sevilla, Past President 1980

"I am passionate about and grateful for the opportunity I am afforded every day as a defense attorney to help individuals navigate through the criminal justice system, but I often feel frustrated and guilty that my day-to-day work does not as often allow me the chance to affect change on the macro level. CACJ means the chance to get involved in the broader fight as well as encourage and support a sense of community in the defense bar that is vital to the often lonely and thankless work we are all committed to."

Lee Stonum, CACJ Board Member

"It is such an honor to be part of CACJ and to watch the heroic efforts of CACJ members fighting to achieve fairness in our legal system.  When I first joined the Board I had no idea about the incredible efforts and success CACJ advocates make on a daily basis throughout our great state.  The collective wisdom of the outstanding attorneys that comprise the CACJ Board is inspiring and makes me a better attorney and citizen.  The efforts and support of CACJ members ensures the protection  of liberty and justice for all."

Deedra Edgar, Board Member 2012-2017

"It is an honor to be part of CACJ's work to protect the rights of the accused and hold the criminal justice system accountable. Not only does CACJ work to uphold the Constitution and fight for fairness and justice for all, but it supports the attorneys that engage in this battle every day."

Maria Morga, CACJ Board Member

"CACJ is important to the criminal defense bar and to the personal rights and liberties of everyone in California. CACJ's presence in Sacramento is unmatched and often is the only voice to promote or defeat bills before the State Legislature.  CACJ provides the highest quality Seminars and Webinars to educate practitioners and to give them a sense of community. CACJ also conducts the National Trial Advocacy Competition which attracts teams from law schools all over the country."

Robert Sanger, Past President 2013

"It is an exciting time to be a part of CACJ in this changing landscape of criminal justice . The resulting sea-change is the result of budgetary woes from inflated prison sentences. I am inspired every time I attend a meeting and learn of the efforts members make on behalf of the accused without compensation or commendation to put "rehabilitation" back into the system which for so long just sought to warehouse those society deemed unsuitable. I am particularly hopeful that I can address the problems of elderly prisoners seeking compassionate release. No one should die in prison."

Oliver Cleary, CACJ Board Member

"CACJ is like a beacon in the distance through the fog and heavy mist.  It is where we will strive to meet and find our finest selves, where we will become the best lawyers we can be, and where we will work together to change the world and make it a better place for ourselves, our children, and most importantly, our clients."

John Crouch

"California Attorneys for Criminal Justice is the home for those attorneys in California who understand and truly appreciate the liberties and freedoms recognized by our Founding Fathers and embodied in the United States Constitution. More importantly, these women and men of the bar recognize that these inalienable rights enunciated in the Constitution will be ignored, belittled and ultimately stolen from us by the state without champions taking a stand -- this is who we are -- this is who YOU are!"

Jonathan Willis, Life Member

"It is an honor to serve as a member of the Board of Governors of CACJ. Public sentiment toward criminal justice has made a paradigm shift. Over the past few years, there have been new laws which have reduced the criminalization of certain crimes, thereby curtailing the years of over incarceration of individuals for petty offenses. As a public defender I have also witnessed the upswing in the incarceration of the mentally ill. I hope to continue our work for alternatives to incarceration such as rehabilitation and treatment for all indigent people."

Susan Roe, CACJ Board Member

"There is nothing better that I could do to advance the interests of the clients and the criminal defense bar than by being an active member of CACJ. "

Jefferey R. Stein, Past President 2011

"CACJ is the organization that is pushing back against unreasonable laws and unjust treatment for people accused of crimes. Because of the state of the law, criminal defense work is a tough, Sisyphean endeavor. My colleagues at CACJ give me the inspiration and strength I need to zealously push that boulder up a hill over and over again. Because of them, I remember that there is strength in numbers and solace in camaraderie."

Cris Lamb, CACJ President 2017

"CACJ has represented the interests of the defense bar and our clients for almost 40 years. Our legislative efforts, educational programs, amicus support, publications, just to mention a few, have been invaluable to my practice, to our members, and for all those who represent people accused of crime"

Alex Landon, Past President 1986

"What we don't mention often enough in discussing CACJ is the role that we as a group have taken on to affect change, or to protect and at times to expand the meaning of peoples' rights. Look at the work done by CACJ in the legislative arena, and in amicus litigation. CACJ is often asked for help because we are willing to speak up."

John Philipsborn, Co-Chair CACJ Amicus Committee

"As criminal defense attorneys we regularly make a difference in our individual clients’ lives. However, standing alone, our efforts only go that far. In order to bring about a real change to the criminal justice system, we must work together as a team. CACJ provides the framework for that cooperation. As Helen Keller once said: “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.”

Orchid Vaghti, Board Member

"CACJ is a family of criminal defense lawyers. We share knowledge, experience and affection. It is a mirror in which we bond with others like us to experience the best in law and lawyers. It is a message that we are not alone."

Ephraim Margolin, CACJ's First President & Founding Member

"CACJ has been the key guide to my becoming a more effective and inventive advocate for the clients I serve, by offering the great minds and strategists of our craft as inspiring mentors."

Jefferey R. Stein, Past President 2011

"There are countless pieces of catastrophic legislation dead on the floor of the legislature as the direct result of the dedicated, articulate and dogged work, over the years, of the CACJ Legislative Committee and our lobbyists."

Jefferey R. Stein, Past President 2011

“Criminal defense attorneys who are committed to providing the highest quality of representation to their clients join CACJ. Membership in the organization offers the opportunity to join with dedicated colleagues throughout the state to learn from one another and to stand together in the fight for justice.”

Stephen Dunkle, Chair CACJ Amicus Committee & FORUM Editor

Annual Criminal Defense Seminar
December 6th & 7th, 2019
Hotel Nikko
San Francisco, CA


Amicus: McDonough v Smith, United States Supreme Court, June 2019

McDonough v Smith, United States Supreme Court, June 2019: The United States Supreme Court handed down a rare reversal of the Second Circuit in an important civil rights case for those seeking damages because of a prosecution based on fabricated evidence. The Second Circuit had ruled that the statute of limitations runs from the time that the aggrieved person discovers the fabrication--regardless of whether the underlying criminal case was still ongoing or not. CACJ and a number of organizations including Brooklyn Defender Services argued it was fundamentally unfair to force relief to be sought that early in the process, and that the plaintiff in such a case could wait until the criminal case had terminated in his or her favor before filing a civil rights action. The Court agreed that where the theory of liability involves malicious prosecution, imposing an early statute of limitations was not in keeping with the concept of allowing opportunity for redress.

The case has significance for those falsely or fraudulently accused, including those with innocence claims whose opportunity for relief would (and in certain historical cases did) run out if the Second Circuit's reasoning prevailed. CACJ and fellow amici were represented by lawyers from Arnold & Porter and Kaye Scholer in Washington, D.C..

Read the court syllabus here.

June 2019


Press Release: CACJ Statement on the Raid of Journalist Bryan Carmody

CRIMINAL JUSTICE GROUP CONDEMNS POLICE RAID OF JOURNALIST

California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) Statement on the Raid of
Journalist Bryan Carmody

"We strongly condemn the latest police action in the raid on journalist Bryan Carmody’s home. Such authoritarian action, if not forcefully denounced, adds to an already dangerous climate of diminution of the press and the continued erosion of our vital 4th Amendment freedoms against unreasonable and unwarranted search and seizure. This is also a direct attack on 1st Amendment protections at a time when these rights are more critical than ever."

Read the full Press Release here.


Amicus: Taylor v. Pima County (Ninth Circuit)

CACJ has joined with several other organizations including NACDL in urging the Ninth Circuit to consider whether persons claiming the right to recover damages for wrongful imprisonment who were released from custody on that basis can seek violation of civil rights based damages regardless of whether they raised actual innocence claims in a habeas corpus proceeding, or whether they entered no contest pleas as part of the resolution of their cases during the litigation of their cases. On the latter issue especially, since a number of persons claiming actual innocence have been freed on condition of the entry of a no contest plea, this is a case of concern to those seeking compensation for wrongful imprisonment. Donald Falk of Mayer Brown took the lead for CACJ and NACDL.

Read the brief here.

March 2019


MCLE Seminars

46th Annual Criminal Defense Seminar
December 6th & 7th
Nikko Hotel
San Francisco, CA

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Winter Meeting
Friday, December 6th
Hotel Nikko
San Francisco, CA

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