"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

"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 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

"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

"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 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

"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

"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

“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

"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

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

"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

"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

"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

"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 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

"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

“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 2012-2017

"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 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

"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

"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

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


Sean Garvin v New York

CACJ is joined in an amicus brief filed in the United States Supreme Court by Mark Thompson and other lawyers at Washington, D.C.'s Crowell and Moring. CACJ's amicus committee chair, Steve Dunkle, and vice chair John Philipsborn, were both involved in the drafting process and contributed material to demonstrate California's interest in the litigation that asks the Court to recognize that there is no exception to the warrant requirement that would be permit a warrantless arrest of persons who are in the doorway of a home. The case addresses the argument that there is a doorway exception to the warrant requirement.

Read the brief here

April 2018


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


CACJ Honors our Founder, George Porter

In 1973 George Porter, tired of seeing the needs of criminal defense lawyers ignored, wrote a letter to the criminal defense attorneys throughout California proposing a statewide criminal defense organization. In September of that year, a group of defense lawyers met to discuss the need for such an organization, and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice was born.

This March marks the 10th anniversary of George's passing. We hope that he would have been proud of all that CACJ has accomplished since he founded this organization 45 years ago.

Updated 3.5.18


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

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