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 Vice President 2018

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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 President 2018

"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 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 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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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 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

"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 President 2018

"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

"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

"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 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 and Exonerated Nation Met in January to Discuss the Unique Needs of Exonerees After Being Released

The CACJ Co-Hosted event with Exonerated Nation met with Legislators and staff in January to discuss the lack of resources that exonerees are faced with after being released. Such resources are healthcare, job placement/education, financial resources, and many others that could assist exonerees in their transition into freedom.

“We talked about being exonerated, the issues that we face – no housing, food, clothing. We want help, an opportunity, job training. We’re just trying to get back to some normal society,” Johnson said in a later interview. “I was a loving, caring father. It was an accident. The pain is nothing I can change or fix. I just have to lay everything out and be the best person I can be.”

Read more from the Sac Bee here.

Updated 2.23.18


California Attorney General Says That Our Current Bail System Doesn’t Make Us Safer

It's time for Bail Reform.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra stated Tuesday that he will not appeal the recent court decision to readjust bail as setting bail so high a defendant cannot pay it is only justified when the suspect is too dangerous to release before trial.

“Today’s bail system does not make you safer, because if you’ve got the money, and you’re dangerous, you still get out,” Becerra said. “You should not be allowed free if you are a harm to society.”

Read more from the Sac Bee here.

Updated 2.21.18


L.A. County Attorneys who Represent Indigent Clients in Criminal Court Protest Their New Boss

After the L.A. Board of Supervisors controversial appointment of Nicole Davis Tinkham as interim public defender, L.A. County attorneys protest their new boss. The controversy stems from Tinkham's lack of criminal trial experience, her close relationships with the L.A. County Sheriff's Department and her overall inexperience.

""Leadership without experience in the field is a recipe for disaster," said Deputy Public Defender Timothy McDermott."

"To Vernon Patterson, a 23-veteran of the public defender's office, Tinkham's appointment stung: "It felt like it was a slap in the face.""

Read more from the LA Times

CACJ's Statement re: LA Public Defender Appointment

Updated 2.14.18


Four Lawyers from the SF Public Defender's Office are Runing for Superior Court Judge

In San Francisco, four lawyers from the Public Defender's Office are now putting their hat into the ring to run for Superior Court Judge and remove those who were appointed by a Republican Governor even though some of the appointed Judges are registered democrats.

"Cheng is also a Democrat. Asked about that, Streets said, “A Democrat appointed by a Republican governor — how much of a Democrat is that person, really?”

Incumbent judges are rarely challenged. If no candidate opposes them, they are re-elected automatically to six-year terms without having to appear on the ballot. Occasionally, judicial appointees by a Republican governor in a heavily Democratic county like San Francisco will draw opposition, but a joint campaign like the one announced Wednesday for the June ballot is virtually unheard of."'

Read more from the SF Gate here.

Updated 2.8.2018


Pro-Trump Television Ad Tries to Turn Americans Against Latinos

The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) issues the following statement regarding the recent ad issued by the Trump Campaign :

Pro-Trump Television Ad Tries to Turn Americans Against Latinos

Over the years political campaigns have explored the depths of racial hatred simply to bolster the election results of a particular candidate. Spending millions of dollars on television ads to cultivate a generalized fear against a particular race/ethnicity is abhorrent and intolerable. The fact that such race-baiting is conducted to help a politician without any regard for the damage it does to the individual members of the targeted community is a disgrace and is itself a heinous act.

This past weekend’s ad by the Trump reelection committee is yet another extreme example of racially charged messaging. It ascribes the act of a single individual to an entire population. If you look like him, you too are a threat to the safety of those around you. Imagine if every American had to bear the responsibility and blame for all the crimes committed by everyone who lives in your neighborhood simply because you share the same zip code. Trump’s re-election ad is just as ludicrous and dangerous, especially in light of the ongoing racially-tinged rhetoric we have heard from Trump himself. The ad is also an attack on the criminal justice system by suggesting that every time an individual is on trial, his/her entire community may be found guilty too.

There is no place in American politics, or America, for such racially charged attacks on communities of color, attacks that place the blame for one person’s actions at the feet of others. The talents and accomplishment of immigrants is central to the growth and greatness of America. We must move past the outdated strategy to turn us against our neighbors simply because of their racial/ethnic background.

The ad also continues the Trump strategy to reduce complex public policy into racially charged soundbites designed to play on the deepest fears of Americans. He is willing to govern from a political picture book that relies on oversimplified taglines which confirm his one-dimensional, razor-thin understanding of complex issues. America deserves better than this.

CACJ condemns this ad and calls for all of those who are as outraged as we are to join us in condemning this outrageous appeal to the worst instincts of those who it reaches.

Updated 1.24.18


Legislative Tuesday: The Wrongfully Convicted

California’s Exonerated Nation: From Prison to Freedom

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 took their message to the California State Capitol, hosting an Informational Briefing on the challenges California exonerees face after they’re exonerated.

Updated 1.17.18


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.

Updated 12.22.18


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.


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

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