Board Resolution ~ 04/17/2005

Calling for Recognition of Judicial Independence

Resolution of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Calling for Recognition of Judicial Independence 

New York, New York
April 17, 2005

WHEREAS, House Majority Leader Tom Delay, referring to the recent tragic death of Terri Schiavo, recently stated that “The time will come for the men responsible for this to answer for their behavior….”;

WHEREAS, Senator John Cornyn, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, thereafter suggested that recent courthouse violence might be explained by distress about judges who allegedly are “making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public”; Senator Cornyn stated that the frustration “builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in” violence;

WHEREAS, these statements were made shortly after the tragic murders of a judge in Atlanta in his courtroom, allegedly by a defendant in a criminal case who was trying to escape, and of the mother and husband of a federal judge in Chicago, allegedly by a mentally ill plaintiff upset at the dismissal of his civil lawsuit;

WHEREAS, there is continuing dispute in the Senate over the standards and procedures for judicial nominations, including whether the rules should be changed regarding the number of votes required to shut off debate, and whether or how the religious beliefs of judicial nominees should be considered;

NOW, it is hereby

RESOLVED, that the NACDL is deeply concerned that the statements by House Majority Leader DeLay and Senator Cornyn threaten the independence and integrity of the judiciary, which is essential to the liberty of every citizen,

RESOLVED, that the NACDL calls on House Majority Leader DeLay and Senator Cornyn to retract their statements and reaffirm the fundamental importance of the independence of the judiciary as a co-equal branch of the federal government in accordance with the Constitution,

RESOLVED, that the NACDL calls on President George W. Bush to condemn these statements and to urge respect for the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary,

RESOLVED, that the NACDL calls upon all our elected officials to deal with the issues facing us using the voice of reason, with respect for those who disagree, and without hatred or malice,

RESOLVED, that the NACDL calls upon all lawyers and bar associations, at the national, state and local level, to give top priority to defending in a non-partisan manner the independence and integrity of the judiciary by all necessary and proper means, including writing letters to Congressional representatives, issuing statements to the public and the media, developing ways to respond rapidly to attacks on the judiciary, and working with judges’ associations, law schools, professors and law students, and community groups, and

RESOLVED, that May 1, 2005, being Law Day, the NACDL urges all our elected officials, judges, lawyers, bar associations, judges’ associations, law schools, professors and students, and community groups, and the media, to mark this year’s Law Day by reaffirming the fundamental importance of the rule of law and our respect for the independence and integrity of the judiciary.

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