"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

"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

"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

"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 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

“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

"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'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

"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

"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

“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 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

"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

"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 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 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

"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 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

"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

"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

"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 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 Supported Bill on Voting Rights for Formerly or Currently Incarcerated Individuals Passes

Today in Senate Public Safety Committee, CACJ supported bill AB 1344 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber passed out of committee. AB 1344 will ensure that individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated receive the correct information on their right to vote. This will help give these individuals the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote on issues critical to them and their families once they return to society.

Updated 6.20.2017


Is it Time to Renew your Membership?

By renewing your CACJ membership, not only will you continue to receive special MCLE discounts and strengthen the state's criminal defense attorney community, you will help move forward our campaign for criminal justice reform.

If you have questions about when your membership please contact the office at 916.643.1800.


In the News: State Supreme Court Holds Hearing on Validity of Death Penalty Initiative

In November, CA voters approved Prop 66, an initiative to speed up the death penalty in California. CACJ was opposed to Prop 66, and supported the counter-initiate Prop 62, which would have abolished the death penalty in CA.

The CA Supreme Court reviewed the measure to determine if the voters should be able to dictate how these cases are handled. Elisabeth Semel, Past President of CACJ and director of UC Berkeley Law’s Death Penalty Clinic, poses the legal question, “what control does our highest court have over the cases that come in front of it?”

Read more here.

Updated 6.12.2017


CA Supreme Court Overturns Convictions Due to Racial Bias

A decision last Thursday by the CA Supreme Court found that racial bias in a 2011 ruling, involving prosecution’s removal of 10 prospective jurors who were Latino, improperly tainted a jury selection. This decision resulted in the court overturning multiple convictions, two of which were for attempted murder.

Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar in his opinion, noted, “It is not only litigants who are harmed when the right to trial by impartial jury is abridged, [t]aints of discriminatory bias in jury selection — actual or perceived — erode confidence in the adjudicative process, undermining the public’s trust in courts.”

Read more here.

Updated 6.5.2017


CACJ Co-Sponsored SB 395 Aims to Protect Minors from Interrogation Without Counsel

When Jerome Dixon was 17 years old, he was interrogated for 25 hours and confessed to a murder he did not commit. “I just wanted to get out of that situation by any means I could at that point,” Dixon said. “My teenage self had no idea of what those constitutional rights meant or what it meant to give them up.” CACJ is Co-Sponsoring SB 395 to help ensure safeguards are in place to protect juveniles from false confessions by requiring defense counsel to be present before they waive their Miranda rights. California State Senator Ricardo Lara introduced SB 395, saying that, “right now it is very easy to interrogate minors and coerce confessions.” This measure is backed by several groups including Youth Justice Coalition, Human Rights Watch, and Pacific Juvenile Defender Center.

Read more from The Chronicle of Social Change


California State Bar considered revisions to the Proposed Ethical Rule 5-110

California State Bar considered revisions to the proposed ethical rule 5-110 for prosecutors. The California Supreme Court adopted the rule in part and sent back in part the prior proposal. The California Supreme Court's suggested changes are problematic.

After participation and feedback from CACJ and several other attorneys, Rule 5-110 was revised and approved and will be referred back to the California Supreme Court for consideration. Here is the new proposed rule.

See agenda and proposed order here

Proposed change here

Court order here

Updated 5.26.2017


Two CACJ Members Appointed to County Superior Court Positions

Governor Brown Appoints
Adam B. Ryan to Shasta County Superior Court

Adam Ryan has been a CACJ member since 2009 and served on the CACJ Board of Governors. He is a sole practitioner from Redding, CA and a partner at Wright, Ryan and Anderson PLC.

Read the May 22nd Press Release here

Governor Brown Appoints
Gregory J. Elvine-Kreis to Humboldt County Superior Court

Gregory J. Elvine-Kreis has been a CACJ Member since 2012. He was a deputy public defender from 2010 to 2013 at the Humboldt County Public Defender’s Office, and is currently a supervising attorney at the same office.

Read the May 22nd Press Release here


Featured on 60 Minutes: Jailhouse Informants in Orange County Unveiled

This year CACJ is co-sponsoring AB 359, authored by Assemblyman Jones-Sawyer, which provides more transparency and limits over-incentivising jailhouse informants. This story on 60 minutes interviews Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckus about the jailhouse informant scandal as well as multiple jailhouse informants.

See story here

Updated 5.26.2017


New Amicus Brief Filed: Finn Batato, et al

This week, CACJ and allies filed an Amicus Brief on Constitutional protections of the 4th Amendment and civil forfeiture.
CACJ has been active on due process protections and supported recent legislation, SB 443, which requires that a defendant be convicted of an underlying crime before cash or property can be permanently seized. The law took effect this year.
Read more on the brief here
Updated 5.10.2017

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

Prosecutors in California Speak out Against ICE Raids at Courthouses San Francisco Chronicle, At the Lectern, Press-Telegram

Read more about courthouse arrests from the LA Times here

Updated 4.7.17


Current Issue is on-line!

Upcoming Events


NACDL's The Golden Rules of Cross
July 26-29, 2017
The Fairmont Hotel
San Francisco, CA


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 Appellate Practice Seminar
November 4th, 2017
San Diego, CA


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

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