"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

"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

"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 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'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

"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

"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

To fight the horrors of class warfare, mass incarceration, and the torture of solitary confinement, we must stand together. We do this through our membership in the CACJ, the single most powerful state-based group of criminal defense lawyers in the nation. Join us. We're making a difference.

Jacqueline Goodman, CACJ President 2019

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

“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

"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

"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

"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

"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 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

"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

“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

"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

"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

"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

Registration for Pozner Seminar is OPEN


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


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. "

Watch the press conference here.


Breaking News: Governor Newsom Takes Action to Halt Executions In California

At 10:00 am this morning Governor Newsom will announce an Executive Order placing a moratorium on executions in California, removing inmates from death row, and withdrawing the pending lethal injection protocols.

CACJ applauds Governor Newsom for taking this bold and courageous action. Our system is broken beyond repair, and has proven to be biased and sometimes puts the wrong person in prison. CACJ sends many thanks to our members who have been tireless advocates against capital punishment, and we will continue to fight to move California in line with most other advanced countries and many other states in putting an end to this practice.

To watch Governor Newsom’s press conference, click to view the LiveStream here.

March 2019

MCLE Seminars

Master of Cross Examination: Larry Pozner
Saturday, April 27th, 2019
Sacramento, CA
Sunday, April 28th, 2019
Long Beach, CA
DUI Rules of the Road XXII
Saturday, August 24th, 2019
Renaissance Hotel
Palm Springs, CA
Appellate Practice Seminar
Saturday, September 7th, 2019
Cal Western School of Law
San Diego, CA
46th Annual Criminal Defense Seminar
December 6th & 7th
Nikko Hotel
San Francisco, CA

Upcoming Board Meetings

Friday, August 23rd
Renaissance Hotel
Palm Springs, CA

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