“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

"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

"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

"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

"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 Treasurer

"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 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

"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 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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"The Brady bill is the latest example of CACJ's Leg Comm and Ignacio's group having unlimited creativity to overcome all obstacles and limitless tenacity to keep battling when lesser souls would give up on exhaustion. It is an honor and privilege to be allowed to work with all of you."

Steve Rease, CACJ Vice-President

“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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

Legislative Briefing Today: The Wrongfully Convicted

What: California’s Exonerated Nation: From Prison to Freedom
When: Wednesday, January 17th at Noon
Where: State Capitol Building, Room 447

After serving 17 years in State Prison for the wrongful conviction of a 1994 murder and attempted robbery, Obie Anthony founded Exonerated Nation, a non-profit with a commitment to help exonerees transition from prison to freedom. This week, Exonerated Nation, Obie Anthony and Co-Host CACJ will take their message to the California State Capitol, hosting an Informational Briefing on the challenges California exonerees face after they’re exonerated.

If you have any questions or would like to attend please contact, christiane@hernandezstrategy.com

2016 President Matthew Guerrero has been Appointed to a Judgeship

CACJ is honored to announce that our 2016 President Matthew Guerrero has been appointed to a judgeship in the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court by Governor Jerry Brown.

Guerrero said that 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."

CACJ 2018 Incoming President Steve Rease said that, "CACJ is extremely excited to have one of our outstanding members appointed to the superior court bench of SLO. Matthew Guerrero's contributions to CACJ were both numerous and significant. He provided great leadership as our president. The people who come before him will find a judge with integrity, wisdom, and compassion. CACJ also congratulates Governor Brown on a most wise decision on making this appointment."

SLO Tribune article here.

Read the full press release here.

CACJ Files Amicus Brief in S.V. v. Superior Court (Harris)

CACJ has filed a letter brief supporting the Orange County Public Defender's petition for review of a published Court of Appeal ruling that denied the accused in a criminal case access to files pertinent to him that were part of a juvenile court proceeding. The Los Angeles Public Defender and CPDA also filed letter briefs. Steve Dunkle and John Philipsborn on brief for CACJ.

Read the brief here.

Governor Brown Signs CACJ Co-Sponsored Juvenile Miranda Bill and FOUR other CACJ Supported Bills

Governor Brown signs CACJ Co- Sponsored SB 395 to require attorneys before some juveniles are questioned by law enforcement and signs supported bills including discretion for firearm enhancement.

See full list here. https://www.gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=20011

SB 395 Juvenile Miranda Bill Signed – Co-Sponsor

SB 395 is carried by former CACJ Legislator of the Year recipient Senator Ricardo Lara (Long Beach). SB 395 will help ensure safeguards are in place to protect juveniles from false confessions by requiring defense counsel to be present or contacted before they waive their Miranda rights. This measure is backed by several groups including Youth Justice Coalition, Human Rights Watch, and Pacific Juvenile Defender Center.

Senate Bill 620 Firearm Enhancement

SB 620 by Senator Bradford (Compton) will allow a court, in the interest of justice, to strike a sentence enhancement for using or discharging a firearm when a person is convicted for committing a felony.

SB 394 Parole for LWOP Juveniles

SB 394 by Senator Lara (Long Beach) will give individuals serving life without the possibility of parole who committed crimes as youth the opportunity to work for parole after serving at least 25 years in prison. This would bring California law into compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana (2016).

SB 180 Repeals 3 years Sentence Enhancement for Drug Prior

SB 180 by Senator Holly Mitchell, another former CACJ Legislator of the Year recipient, limits the sentence enhancement for a person convicted of a violation of, or of conspiracy to violate, specified crimes relating to controlled substances to only be based on each prior conviction of, or on each prior conviction of conspiracy to violate, the crime of using a minor in the commission of offenses involving specified controlled substances.

SB 190 Eliminates fee on Families for Juvenile Hall

SB 190 by Senator Holly Mitchell, ends juvenile cost of detention, probation supervision, drug testing, electronic monitoring, and attorney’s fees in California.

Updated 10.11.17

CACJ Member Linda Starr named Executive Director for the Northern California Innocence Project

"Sixteen years ago, when I co-founded NCIP, I couldn’t have imagined the challenges and opportunities ahead, let alone the transformative growth that has brought us an amazing long-term home at Santa Clara Law, financial stability, and a solid reputation as a leader in the criminal justice community."

- Linda Star from 2017 Annual Report

Learn more about NCIP here

Governor Brown Signs TWO CACJ Supported Bills-Tiered Sex Offender & HIV law reform

Senate Bill 384 - Tiered Sex Offender

S.B. 384 establishes 3-tiers of registration for sex offenders. California is currently one of only four other states with mandatory lifetime registration.

Senate Bill 239 - HIV law reform

SB 239 by Senator Wiener (San Francisco) will modernize outdated and discriminatory HIV criminal laws by reducing 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.

Updated 10.6.17

Current Issue is on-line!

Upcoming Events

CACJ & CPDA's Capital Case Defense Seminar
February 16th - 19th, 2018
Monterey, CA


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