"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

"CACJ is an essential state-wide organization for all criminal defense attorneys.  The seminars, seminar materials, and Forum magazine are outstanding, addressing the latest issues and developments in criminal law, procedure and evidence.  All of the committees are accomplished and hardworking. The Legislative Committee and Ignacio is a prime example: an important and respected voice in the legislature continually achieving impressive results."

Robert Boyce, CACJ Board Member & Death Penalty Committee Co-Chair

"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 Vice-President

"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

"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 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 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

"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 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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"As criminal defense attorneys we regularly make 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

"For 40 years, CACJ has been a powerful voice for criminal defense attorneys and their clients. It has impacted laws that protect the rights of the convicted and accused and provided defense attorneys with education, advocacy  and community. CACJ's strength, purpose and longevity make it a cornerstone of criminal justice in California."

Laurel Headley

"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

"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 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, Co-Chair CACJ Amicus Committee & FORUM Editor

“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

"As defense counsel is the accused's friend in court, CACJ is the accused's friend in the Legislature. By lobbying together for shorter sentences and fewer crimes, we can make our state more just, and our world more free."

Jesse Stout, CACJ Board Member

"It has been my pleasure to serve as President of CACJ. In that capacity I have met and worked with many people who are truly committed to the defense of others and the idea that there can and should be equal justice for all. Thank you for the opportunity."

Christopher Chaney, Past President 2012

"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

"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

Are You Joining us for DUI Rules of the Road XX Seminar in Palm Springs?

CACJ's DUI Rules of the Road XX

Reception September 8, 2017
Seminar September 9, 2017

Renaissance Hotel Palm Springs
888 E Tahquitz Canyon Way
Palm Springs, CA 92262

Hotel Reservation Group Rate of $149 per night. Deadline is August 15th
Book your group rate on-line here: 2017 DUI Seminar


Bail Reform, Tiered Registration, and HIV Decriminalization Legislation Advance

Today marked the last day for the Assembly and Senate Public Safety committees to hear bills before the legislative deadline. Many of the most controversial bills were saved for this final hearing, and support and opposition came out in full force!

Three of these bills that passed, all supported by CACJ, include:

S.B. 10 (Hertzberg) will reform California’s broken bail system

S.B. 239 (Wiener) will modernize outdated and discriminatory HIV criminal laws

S.B. 421 (Wiener) will change lifetime 290 registration and instead establish 3 tiers of registration

Next, the bills head to the Assembly Appropriations committee, then to the Floor for a vote of the full Assembly. Stay tuned for more updates!

Updated 7.12.2017


CACJ Co-Sponsored Jailhouse Informant Bill and Juvenile Miranda Rights Bill Pass Out of Committee

This morning in Assembly and Senate Public Safety Committees, CACJ co-sponsored bills pass out of committee. The first, AB 359 (Jones-Sawyer), provides more transparency and minimizes the incentives for false testimony in the use of jailhouse informants; and the second, SB 395 (Lara), which requires that youth under the age of 18 consult with counsel prior to a custodial interrogation and before waiving their Miranda rights.

Updated 6.27.2017


CACJ Supported Bill on Voting Rights for Formerly or Currently Incarcerated Individuals Passes

Today in Senate Public Safety Committee, CACJ supported bill AB 1344 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber passed out of committee. AB 1344 will ensure that individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated receive the correct information on their right to vote. This will help give these individuals the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote on issues critical to them and their families once they return to society.

Updated 6.20.2017


In the News: State Supreme Court Holds Hearing on Validity of Death Penalty Initiative

In November, CA voters approved Prop 66, an initiative to speed up the death penalty in California. CACJ was opposed to Prop 66, and supported the counter-initiate Prop 62, which would have abolished the death penalty in CA.

The CA Supreme Court reviewed the measure to determine if the voters should be able to dictate how these cases are handled. Elisabeth Semel, Past President of CACJ and director of UC Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic, poses the legal question, “what control does our highest court have over the cases that come in front of it?”

Read more here.

Updated 6.12.2017


CA Supreme Court Overturns Convictions Due to Racial Bias

A decision last Thursday by the CA Supreme Court found that racial bias in a 2011 ruling, involving prosecution’s removal of 10 prospective jurors who were Latino, improperly tainted a jury selection. This decision resulted in the court overturning multiple convictions, two of which were for attempted murder.

Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar in his opinion, noted, “It is not only litigants who are harmed when the right to trial by impartial jury is abridged, [t]aints of discriminatory bias in jury selection — actual or perceived — erode confidence in the adjudicative process, undermining the public’s trust in courts.”

Read more here.

Updated 6.5.2017


Two CACJ Members Appointed to County Superior Court Positions

Governor Brown Appoints
Adam B. Ryan to Shasta County Superior Court

Adam Ryan has been a CACJ member since 2009 and served on the CACJ Board of Governors. He is a sole practitioner from Redding, CA and a partner at Wright, Ryan and Anderson PLC.

Read the May 22nd Press Release here

Governor Brown Appoints
Gregory J. Elvine-Kreis to Humboldt County Superior Court

Gregory J. Elvine-Kreis has been a CACJ Member since 2012. He was a deputy public defender from 2010 to 2013 at the Humboldt County Public Defender’s Office, and is currently a supervising attorney at the same office.

Read the May 22nd Press Release here


Featured on 60 Minutes: Jailhouse Informants in Orange County Unveiled

This year CACJ is co-sponsoring AB 359, authored by Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer, which provides more transparency and limits over-incentivising jailhouse informants. This story on 60 minutes interviews Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckus about the jailhouse informant scandal as well as multiple jailhouse informants.

See story here

Updated 5.26.2017


New Amicus Brief Filed: Finn Batato, et al

This week, CACJ and allies filed an Amicus Brief on Constitutional protections of the 4th Amendment and civil forfeiture.
CACJ has been active on due process protections and supported recent legislation, SB 443, which requires that a defendant be convicted of an underlying crime before cash or property can be permanently seized. The law took effect this year.
Read more on the brief here
Updated 5.10.2017

Current Issue is on-line!

Upcoming Events


CACJ's DUI Rules of the Road XX
September 8 & 9, 2017
Renaissance Hotel
Palm Springs, CA


CACJ's National Criminal Trial Advocacy Competition
October 19-22, 2017
San Francisco, CA


CACJ's Appellate Practice Seminar
November 4th, 2017
San Diego, CA


CACJ's 44th Annual Criminal Defense Seminar & Awards Luncheon
December 15th & 16th, 2017
San Francisco, CA

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