"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

“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

"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

"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 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

"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

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

"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

"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 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

"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

"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

"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 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

"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 Treasurer

"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

"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

"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 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

"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

"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

Join us in San Francisco in December for our 45th Anniversary!

Annual Criminal Defense Seminar

December 7-8, 2018
Hotel Nikko
San Francisco, CA


Amicus: People v. Miracle (California Supreme Court)

CACJ has filed a brief in support of the State Public Defender's argument that Penal Code Section 1018 mandating that the accused in a capital case have counsel of record, and consent of that counsel, to plead guilty is a constitutionally valid statute that promotes public policy in favor of exercising care in the litigation of capital cases. Andrea Asaro of OSPD for the appellant. J.T. Philipsborn on brief for CACJ.

Read the Brief here

Read the Amicus Application here


Press Release: Stop ICE Raids in Fresno County Courthouse

The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), a statewide association of criminal defense attorneys in private practice and working in public defender offices, strenuously objects to recent events in which ICE agents stalked a Fresno County courthouse searching for individuals to take into federal custody.

Read the Press Release here

For more details from Fresno Bee Click here

Updated 7.26.18


Amicus: Facebook v. Superior Court (Touchstone)

In this litigation pending before the California Supreme Court, CACJ has filed a supplemental brief explaining why it supports Real Party Touchstone's arguments in favor of the creation of procedures for individuals charged with crimes in California courts to be able to procure access to stored electronic media from companies like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat (to name a few) notwithstanding the federal Stored Communications Act. Don Landis briefed the matter in CACJ's initial brief. J.T. Philipsborn on brief on the supplemental brief.

Read the brief here

July 2018


In the News: California justice calls for new rules on eyewitness identification in court

"A California Supreme Court justice, dissenting Monday in a death penalty decision, called for new rules to curb inaccurate eyewitness identification, a leading cause of wrongful convictions."

"This case provides another example of the problematic nature of eyewitness identification evidence, particularly where such evidence is the sole or principal evidence against the defendant," Liu wrote.

Read more from the LA Times

Updated 5.8.18


Jamal Trulove awarded $10M after wrongfully being sent to prison for 6 years

Jamal's case was used as inspiration for the for the 2015 CACJ/Hastings National Criminal Law Trial Advocacy Competition. Trulove had been wrongfully convicted when CACJ members Marc Zilversmit secured a reversal and Alex Reisman and Kate Chatfield won an acquittal on retrial. Jamal spent 6 years in prison for a murder he had nothing to do with and shared his important story with the students at the Mock Trial reception in 2015.

Trulove was recently awarded $10 million by jury verdict for violation of his constitutional rights by the San Francisco Police Department. Read more here: https://bit.ly/2GQ0aEy

This year's National Criminal Law Trial Advocacy Competition will be October 11-14, 2018. Save the date and make plans to volunteer as a judge with us this year!

Updated 4.10.18


MCLE Seminars

Annual Criminal Defense Seminar
December 7-8, 2018
Hotel Nikko
San Francisco, CA

Capital Case Defense Seminar
February 15-18, 2019
Monterey Conference Center
Monterey, CA

Upcoming Board Meetings

Friday, December 7th 2018
Hotel Nikko
San Francisco, CA

Friday, February 15th 2019
Bonsai Ballroom Portola Hotel
Monterey, CA

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