News Releases ~ 1999

Criminal Defense Lawyers Call for Illinois Death Penalty Reforms -- Chicago, IL (November 4, 1999) — The nation’s preeminent criminal defense bar association today said that, short of abolition of the death penalty or a moratorium on executions, proposed reforms to Illinois’ capital punishment system must include implementation of new procedural safeguards aimed specifically at police and prosecutors in order to avoid further wrongful convictions. More 

Justice Dept. Cover-Up for FBI Exposed -- Washington, DC (October 6, 1999) A federal judge has found instances where the Department of Justice engaged in "misconduct and bad faith" in an attempt to cover-up improprieties committed by the FBI. The cover-up consisted of repeated misrepresentations of key information in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit brought by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), aimed at disclosing to the public new information about abuses at the FBI Lab. More  

Statement of John K. Zwerling Board Member National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers -- Washington, DC (September 28, 1999) The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) joins Congressman Asa Hutchinson in support of legislation introduced today to safeguard the fundamental Constitutional rights of citizens against bounty hunter abuses. More   

Reno Must Not Trust the FBI -- Washington, DC (August 31, 1999) The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) questioned Attorney General Janet Reno's willingness to involve the FBI in the investigation of the April 1993 siege at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas, in the face of recent revelations that the FBI lied about the use of flammable tear-gas canisters. More 

Criminal Defense Lawyers Ask Bush For "Compassionate Conservatism" in Robison Capital Case -- Washington DC (August 16, 1999) William B. Moffitt, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) today sent the following letter to Texas Governor George W. Bush asking for clemency for diagnosed schizophrenic Larry Keith Robison, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection on August 17, 1999: More 

New Criminal Defense Lawyers' President Decries "Gutting" of Citizens Rights -- Washington DC (July 21, 1999) An unsettling political climate which "tramples on the constitutional rights of Americans, regardless of their innocence, and which ignores legitimate alternatives to incarceration" has made the work of criminal defense lawyers "more difficult and more essential than ever", said William B. Moffitt, incoming president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). More  

House to Feds: No More Unfair Asset Grabs -- Washington, DC (June 24, 1999) Overzealous federal law enforcement officials who unjustly seize property and assets of innocent citizens will be reined in as a result of reform legislation passed by the House today. More 

Evidence Withheld But Death Sentence Upheld -- Washington, DC (June 17, 1999) The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that a Virginia prosecutor withheld evidence in its prosecution of Tommy Strickler for capital murder in 1990. Strickler v. Greene, No. 98-5864. The court agreed with Strickler that the evidence improperly suppressed “might have produced a different result, either at the guilt or sentencing phases.” But the majority, placing the burden on the death row inmate, upheld the death sentence, finding that Strickler failed to establish a “reasonable probability” of a different result. Justices Souter and Kennedy disagreed, and would have vacated the death sentence. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) filed a friend of the court brief supporting Strickler. More 

Loitering Law Struck Down -- Washington, DC (June 11, 1999) The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that Chicago’s “Gang Congregation Ordinance,” prohibiting “criminal street gang members” from “loitering” with one another or with other persons in any public place with “no apparent purpose.” Chicago v. Morales, No. 97-1121. The ordinance violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution because it is impermissibly vague — encompassing harmless behavior — and because it gives the police excessive discretionary power — to decide who looks like a gang member; what activities constitute “loitering,” and whether purposes are apparent. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) filed a friend of the court brief authored by Law Professor Donald A. Dripps, protesting the ordinance. An excerpt is attached. More  

Court Blocks Short-Cut to Death Row -- Washington, DC (June 10, 1999) The U.S. Supreme Court today unanimously agreed that using one suspect’s tape-recorded confession to help convict another suspect violates the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Lilly v. Virginia, 98-5881. Benjamin Lilly’s murder conviction and death sentence were reversed and returned to the Virginia courts to consider whether the constitutional violation was “harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.” The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) filed a friend of the court brief urging such a decision. More 

Supreme Court Opts for Empty Ritual: Prisoners Must Petition State Supreme Courts -- Washington, DC (June 7, 1999) The U.S. Supreme Court today held that before state prisoners can seek federal habeas corpus relief, they must first petition the state supreme courts for discretionary review, even in states, like Illinois, which leave such matters to the state’s intermediate appellate court. O’Sullivan v. Boerckel, 97-2048. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) filed a friend of the court brief supporting the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling to the contrary. More 

Right to Jury Unanimity Upheld -- Washington, DC (June 1, 1999) The U.S. Supreme Court today held that before a jury can find that the government has proven the federal crime of “Continuing Criminal Enterprise,” it must agree that a “continuing series”of drug offenses was proven beyond a reasonable doubt — and must be unanimous as to what those offenses were. Richardson v.United States, 97-8629. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the right to jury unanimity. More 

News Gatherers, Not Carrion Feeders -- Washington, DC (May 24, 1999) The U.S. Supreme Court today decided two companion cases which test the constant tension between individual rights and the public’s right to know, Hanlon v. Berger, 97-1927 and Wilson v. Lane, 98-83. In both of these cases, the Court held, police authorities who invite news media to observe the execution of search warrants violate the Fourth Amendment privacy rights of the aggrieved citizens who then brought suit. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the plaintiffs and the Fourth Amendment. More 

Statement of William B. Moffitt, President-Elect National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers -- Washington, DC (May 17, 1999) “Chipping away at what remains of the Fourth Amendment, the U. S. Supreme Court today — overruling the Florida Supreme Court — upheld the warrantless seizure of an automobile the police believed was used in drug trafficking several months earlier. This nation’s ‘War on Drugs’ has eviscerated the fundamental protections our founding fathers included in our Constitution. Where a law enforcement agency is the beneficiary of forfeited property, the constitutional presumption of approval by a neutral magistrate issuing a proper warrant is essential. Today’s ruling virtually eliminates that protection, and encourages further shortcuts by police in the interest of merely building up their own property inventories at the expense of American citizens.” More  

Searching Auto Passengers -- Washington, DC (April 5, 1999) In response to today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to permit searches of automobile passengers when only the driver is suspected of criminal conduct, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) issued the following statement. NACDL filed a friend of the court brief in the case, Wyoming v. Houghton, No. 98-184, supporting the decision of the Wyoming Supreme Court which declared warrantless searches of passengers’ purses and briefcases unconstitutional. More 

Funding Justice for All -- Washington, DC (March 31, 1999) “Any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided for him.” Since the Supreme Court of the United States wrote those words 36 years ago in Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), the courts and the bar have struggled to fulfill the promise of justice for all. But as Congress found a generation ago when it held hearings on the Criminal Justice Act, unpaid counsel were not always as diligent or prepared as retained counsel. As the Court later ruled, simply appointing a warm body to represent an indigent defendant does not fulfill Gideon’s mandate; the right to counsel is the right to effective assistance of counsel. More  

News Gatherers, Not Carrion Feeders -- Washington, DC (March 24, 1999) The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument today in two companion cases which test the constant tension between individual rights and the public’s right to know, Hanlon v. Berger, 97-1927 and Wilson v. Lane, 98-83. In both of these cases, authorities invited news media to accompany them on “raids,” and the aggrieved citizens later sued, challenging the propriety of media presence when police invade private property. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of the plaintiffs and the Fourth Amendment. More  

The Murder of Rosemary Nelson: Impartial Outside Investigation Urged -- Washington, DC (March 16, 1999) The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) expresses outrage and profound grief over the murder of human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson, who was killed by a car bomb outside her home in Northern Ireland yesterday. More 

‘Perp Walks’ Should be Outlawed -- Washington, DC (March 3, 1999) “‘Perp walks’ are offensive to any conceivable notion of justice in America and to the Constitution that underlies our justice system. This self-serving, police practice of parading citizens under arrest — alleged “perpetrators” — before photographers and TV cameras destroys their presumption of innocence. Police departments across the country should cease and desist immediately,” Larry Pozner, President of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) said today. More 

Defense Lawyers Urge Germany to Impose Economic Sanctions In Protest of LaGrand Executions -- Washington, DC (March 1, 1999) The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (U.S.) urges German companies which do business in the United States to withhold economic investment in the 38 states which execute imprisoned criminals. The 10,000-member organization is protesting last week’s execution of German national Karl LaGrand and the impending execution Wednesday of his brother Walter, also a German citizen. The LeGrand brothers, legal residents of the United States since 1967, were convicted of slaying a bank manager in 1982 during a bungled robbery. More 

Winning at Any Cost: Prosecutorial Excess Distorting America’s Justice System -- Washington, DC (February 9, 1999) A slew of recent investigative reports in major newspapers across America document that excess by prosecutors, both federal and local, are on the rise and often in flagrant violation of the very laws prosecutors are sworn to defend. More 

Imprisoning America’s Poor -- a Crisis in Defense Funding -- Washington, DC (February 4, 1999) America’s criminal justice system is beset with a fatal flaw: funding for the defense of the indigent accused is so woefully inadequate that the adversary system — indeed the justice system itself — is breaking down. As a result, justice has become an empty promise for all but the most wealthy in America. More 

In This Section

Advertisement Advertise with Us
ad