"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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 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

"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 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 Secretary

"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

“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

"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

"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

"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

“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

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 Treasurer

"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

"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

"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 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

"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

"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

In the News: US Supreme Court orders refunds for people whose criminal convictions are overturned

In a decision for a Colorado case, the SCOTUS ordered that states must return court costs and fees, as well as restitution, to those who have had their convictions overturned. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “they are entitled to be presumed innocent.” The decision was 7-1, with Justice Thomas as the only dissenting opinion.

Read more from the LA Times

Updated 4.20.2017

Good bills pass out of committee; Not-so-good bills fail passage

Tuesday, the Assembly and Senate Public Safety Committees both had another lengthy hearing as we near a bill deadline.

Some bills that passed out of committee that CACJ supports include:

  • A.B. No. 42 Bonta. Implements a more fair and effective pretrial release procedure.
  • A.B. No. 90 Weber. Provides law enforcement greater access to reliable and up-to-date crime prevention and investigation tools by implementing more oversight and regulations to the use of the CalGang database.
  • A.B. No. 1128 Weber. Would require courts to retain certain evidence from criminal proceedings for criminal cases.
  • A.B. No. 1344 Weber. Requires CDCR and county probation departments to provide certain voting rights information and affidavits of registration to parolees under their jurisdiction.
  • A.B. No. 1448 Weber. Establishes the Elderly Parole Program, for prisoners who are 60+ years of age and who have served a minimum of 25 years of their sentence. When considering the release of an inmate who meets this criteria, the bill would require the board to consider whether age, time served, and diminished physical condition, if any, have reduced the elderly prisoner’s risk for future violence

CACJ opposed measures to increase penalties and incarceration periods that failed passage include:

  • S.B. No 75 which would have created an additional “violent felony” list that includes 20 felonies not on the existing list in order to exclude offenders from Proposition 57’s parole provisions and to impose a three-year sentencing enhancement.
  • S.B. No. 586 which would expand assault and battery penalties of a peace officer to include a federal peace officers.
  • S.B. No. 757 would require a person convicted of misdemeanor solicitation of a minor to register as a sex offender for life and an adult convicted of misdemeanor solicitation of an adult or minor to give a sample to the DNA databank, failed passage.

Members, login to view the full list.

Updated 4.20.2017

Orange County prosecutor facing State Bar disciplinary charges for failing to turn over exculpatory evidence

The CA Bar alleges the prosecutor knowingly failed to turn over the exculpatory evidence to win a 2014 case. Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals, who presided in State of California v. Iacullo, said it “was a willful violation.” Read the article from the OC Weekly

CACJ recently sponsored two new laws to combat prosecutorial misconduct. AB 1909 makes it a felony for intentional violations, and AB 1328 requires a court to report misconduct to the California State Bar.

  • New law: Prosecutors face felonies if they falsify or withhold evidence from the OC Register

Updated 4.18.2017

Join us at NACDL's Forensic Science & the Law Seminar

NACDL's Forensic Science & the Law Seminar
May 3-6, 2017
The Cosmopolitan
Las Vegas, NV

Join your CACJ and NACDL colleagues in Las Vegas at the premiere venue - The Cosmopolitan Hotel - for the 10th Annual Forensic Science & the Law Conference, "Making Sense of Science."

In the News: Prosecutors in California Speak out Against ICE Raids at Courthouses

See articles by:

San Francisco Chronicle

At the Lectern


Updated 4.7.17

CACJ In the News: CACJ Opposed Tough on Crime Bills Fail Passage

On Tuesday, the Senate Public Safety Committee voted against two of Senator Pat Bates’ bills, one of which, SB 75, looked to expand the definition of “serious violent crime.” The other, SB 69, a second attempt after last year's failed measure, would make it a felony for a person to remove/disable a GPS device if it was affixed as a result of a conviction of certain specified sex offenses.

In response to SB 75, Jacqueline Goodman, CACJ Board Treasurer, explained "the ill-conceived legislation would effectively double the number of crimes for which violators could serve life in prison --including, for example, theft crimes where no actual violence occurred.”

Read more from the Patch

Updated 4.6.17

CACJ Continues to Fight for Smart and Sensible Public Safety Laws

Tuesday, several pieces of legislation backed by CACJ passed out of the Assembly or Senate Public Safety Committee. The passage of these measures are a testament that California will continue to fight to remain at forefront of smart and sensible public safety laws. Be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more updates! Members can learn more here.

Some important measures to note:

A.B. No. 1115 Jones-Sawyer. Would allow a defendant sentenced to state prison for a felony that, if committed after the 2011 Realignment Legislation, would have been eligible for sentencing to a county jail, to be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he or she was convicted.
A.B. No. 1639 Eduardo Garcia. Prohibits the Victim Compensation Board from denying an application for a claim solely because the victim or derivative victim is a person is listed in the CalGang system.
S.B. No. 336 Anderson. Would revise the definition of exonerated for the purpose of eligibility for assistance with transitional services to include a person who has been convicted and subsequently was granted a writ of habeas corpus
S.B. No. 439 Mitchell. Would exclude children under 12 years old from prosecution in a juvenile court.

Updated 4.6.17

In the News: Sessions Orders Justice Department to Review All Police Reform Agreements

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said agreements made during the Obama administration between police departments and the civil rights division will be reviewed to ensure they do not go against the new Drumpf administration’s goal of “promoting officer safety and morale.”

Read more from the Washington Post here.

Updated 4.4.17

CACJ Supports Modernizing Outdated and Discriminatory HIV Criminal Laws

In Assembly and Senate Public Safety committee hearings, several CACJ supported bills passed out of committee. One particularly important bill to note that gained passage is SB 239, authored by Senator Wiener, which reduces several felony laws that criminalize and stigmatize individuals living with HIV down to misdemeanors. This is sponsored by a coalition of LGBT and public health organizations. CACJ Members can read more here.

Updated 3.28.17

CACJ's Jail Informant Legislation Moves Forward

CACJ, along with the ACLU and other allies, is co-sponsoring A.B. No. 359 (Jones-Sawyer) to limit non-monetary compensation to jailhouse informants. Last week the Assembly Public Safety Committee approved the measure on a bipartisan basis. The bill also requires disclosure of detailed information about the informant’s activities. A.B. No. 359 now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for its next vote. Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer is a past recipient of the CACJ Legislator of the Year Award.

CACJ's co-sponsored bill to create a special master to handle exoneree compensation claims was approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee. S.B. 321 by Senator Bill Monning, will be heard next in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Sponsored bill S.B. No. 395 (Lara), gives a juvenile access to an attorney before an interrogation or waiver of Miranda rights, passed the Senate hearing today as well.

Updated 3.28.17

In the News: Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye Objects to Immigration Enforcement Tactics at California Courthouses

California Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye sends an open letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly expressing her concern about the recent ICE arrests at courthouses in California. Cantil-Sakauye’s concern is that the use of courthouses to target immigrants will lead to a lack of trust in our courts by the public. [These arrests] “undermine the judiciary’s ability to provide equal access to justice.

Read the full letter from Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye here.

Updated 3.16.17

In the News: ICE agents make arrests at courthouses, sparking backlash from prosecutors and attorneys

In California and the Southwest, ICE agents have been increasing their arrests including several at courthouses. ICE says that they avoid making arrests at “sensitive locations”, which include schools, hospitals, and places of worship, however courthouses are not on that list. Attorneys worry that arrests at the courthouses will deter witnesses with non-legal statuses from testifying.

Read more from the LA Times here.

Updated 3.16.17

Update: Man spent 30 years in prison for LA murder is exonerated

Andrew Wilson was acquitted today after spending more than 30 years in prison. Mr. Wilson was convicted of murder in 1984 and has maintained his innocence throughout. Paula Mitchell, attorney for Mr. Wilson, and Legal Director of the Project for the Innocent at Loyola Law School, said "numerous due-process violations recently came to light that showed Wilson did not receive a fair trial." Mr. Wilson is set to be released in the next few days and he plans to visit his mother in St Louis, who says she has believed in his innocence and has spent the past 30 years writing letters and being his advocate.

Interview with NBC Los Angeles here.

Read more from the Union Democrat here.

Updated 3.21.17

CACJ In the News: Proposed Bill would take DNA from Misdemeanor Suspects

Proposed bill AB 16 looks to reintroduce a failed bill that will extend DNA testing to some misdemeanors. Currently, police can collect DNA from felony suspects, however Assemblyman Jim Cooper wants to include more crimes.

“The government cannot collect your DNA unless there’s good reason. Good justification. If they have evidence absolutely we understand that,” said Ignacio Hernandez, a lobbyist for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

Read more from CBS here.

CACJ Responded to the California Department of State Hospital Proposal

CACJ Responded to the California Department of State Hospitals' proposed regulation to shift greater emphasis on jail and prison-based treatment instead of state hospitals or community based programs.

Regulations can be found here.

Department of State Hospitals
1600 9th Street, Room 410
Sacramento, CA 95814

Is it Time to Renew your Membership?

Some CACJ memberships are up for renewal, log in to verify your membership is current and update any contact information. Membership renewal reminders are sent out starting two months before your membership expires. If you have not received any renewal reminders—or have questions about when your membership should be renewed—then please contact the office at 916.643.1800.

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Upcoming Events

NACDL's Forensic Science & the Law Seminar
May 3-6, 2017
The Cosmopolitan
Las Vegas, NV

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


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