Inside NACDL: NACDL's Annual Renewal

NACDL's Annual Renewal Norman L.. Reimer August 2010 9 This year NACDL convened its Annual Meeting at an international venue, one of North America’s most cosmopolitan cities, Toronto, Ontario. At a meeting featuring a stirring address from Canada’s Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, the bato

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This year NACDL convened its Annual Meeting at an international venue, one of North America’s most cosmopolitan cities, Toronto, Ontario. At a meeting featuring a stirring address from Canada’s Chief Justice, Beverley McLachlin, the baton of leadership passed from Cynthia Hujar Orr to Jim E. Lavine. This yearly rite of renewal brings new energy and fresh perspectives to the pursuit of NACDL’s goals. It is not just a new president, but a newly elected team of officers and a new class of directors who ensure the Association remains dynamic. Although the incoming group is smaller than last year, it brings to NACDL leadership a wide range of experience embodied by prominent practitioners from coast to coast, and even one from outside “the lower 48.”

On the administrative side, there are transitions as well. The Annual Meeting was the first opportunity for NACDL’s leadership to meet the Association’s newly appointed membership director. And shortly before the Toronto gathering, two key staff members announced their intention to leave to pursue new and exciting opportunities. This month Inside NACDL introduces this wonderful array of new talent and extends a fond farewell to those who are off to seek new challenges.

New Directors

Christopher Adams returns as a director on NACDL’s Board after a one-year hiatus. Chris, who is a life member of NACDL, also serves as co-chair of the Death Penalty Committee, where he has served as either the chair or co-chair since 2004. He is the former director for the Georgia Capital Defender, a former adjunct professor of law at Emory University and Georgia State University, and a current faculty member at the National Criminal Defense College. He has successfully represented 16 clients facing the death penalty at trial, testified in three cases as an expert witness, and has published extensively on issues relating to capital punishment.

Sara Azari
is a solo practitioner in Los Angeles, Calif., specializing in criminal defense. She is an Executive Committee member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, Criminal Section, and has served on NACDL’s Membership Committee. Sara has done multiple pro bono projects benefitting indigent individuals including FAME Church Legal Clinic and Homeboy Industries. She is an NACDL life member, and is commencing her first term as an NACDL director.

Brian Bieber is a partner at Hirschhorn & Bieber, P.A., and is also a life member of NACDL. In his practice, Brian represents individuals and corporations in criminal and civil white collar defense litigation in addition to representing individuals accused of both violent and non-violent criminal conduct. He also represents clients in areas including regulatory affairs, grand jury investigations, Native American law, and gaming law. In 2005, the Daily Business Review awarded Brian the Most Effective South Florida Lawyer Award, and Brian has been acknowledged in SuperLawyers since 2006. He has appeared in multiple media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, National Law Journal, CNN, and Fox News Channel. Brian joined the Board in 2009 and is now starting a new full term.

Richard Jaffe is the senior partner of the Birmingham, Ala., law firm of Jaffe, Strickland & Drennan, P.C., and is an NACDL life member. Richard’s practice focuses on white collar criminal defense and death penalty litigation. He has handled over 60 capital cases, including two federal death penalty cases. He is the only attorney in the nation to successfully defend three death row inmates at new trials after they had previously been sentenced to death. In his more than 33 years of experience, Richard has handled more than 500 jury trials. He received the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyers Association President’s Award in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. He was named in Best Lawyers of America — White Collar and Non-White Collar from 2007-2010 and Best Lawyers of American Lawyer of the Year (Birmingham) Non-White Collar in 2010. Richard is returning to the Board as one of the four affiliate representatives.

Gregory J. Kuykendall, a life member of NACDL, is the director of the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program. In addition to representing capital clients, he supervises 30 lawyers charged with preventing Mexican citizens from being executed. Greg is a faculty member at NACDL’s “Colorado Method” voir dire training, and is a frequent presenter and collaborator with indigent capital defense groups nationwide and international abolitionist groups.

George Newman, a veteran NACDL leader and a life member, commences a new full term as a director. George has long served as co-chair of NACDL’s Long Range Planning Committee and serves on The Champion advisory board. His Pennsylvania-based practice is limited solely to criminal defense in trial, appellate, habeas corpus, and asset forfeiture matters. He helped found the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and served as a vice president of that organization from 1988 to 1990. He has lectured and published extensively on criminal defense topics. George Newman was the 2006 recipient of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Justice Thurgood Marshall Award.

Edward Ungvarsky heads the office of the Capital Defender for Northern Virginia. Edward has published numerous articles on the use of forensic evidence and expert testimony, and he frequently lectures on issues related to forensic science evidence, trial advocacy skills, and the death penalty. He has served on five different Department of Justice Peer Review Committees. Edward recently played a key role in shaping NACDL policy on forensic science in his capacity as chair of the Task Force on the Future of Forensic Science.

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Christopher Wellborn, a longtime NACDL life member, joins the Board as one of the four affiliate representatives. Chris practices in Rock Hill, S.C. He is a past president of the York County Bar Association and the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, an NACDL affiliate that he helped found. Chris has also served as chair of the Criminal Law Section of the South Carolina Bar Association.

Steven Wells is a solo criminal defense practitioner in Anchorage, Alaska. His practice includes both state and federal representation encompassing pretrial investigation, trial, sentencing, appeal, post-conviction relief, and criminal forfeiture matters. He was the founding president of the Alaska Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which recently was accorded NACDL affiliate status. Steve, an NACDL life member, is also a member of the Alaska chapter of the Federal Bar Association. He was recognized in the 2005 edition of Who’s Who in American Law. Elected to fill an unexpired term as an NACDL director in 2009, Steve Wells now commences his first full term.

Christie Williams practices federal and state criminal defense litigation in Austin and Dallas, Texas. She was Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1999 and previously served two terms on NACDL’s Board of Directors. Christie was named a “SuperLawyer” by Texas Monthly 2003 through 2009 and was designated one of the nation’s best litigators under 40 by the National Law Journal in 2002 and 2005. She has taught both criminal law and trial advocacy, published articles on discrimination in jury selection, and frequently lectured on criminal law issues. Christie, too, is an NACDL life member.

William Wolf has served as an assistant public defender in Chicago, Ill., for almost 17 years. Bill is currently first vice president of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He has published multiple articles and given many presentations on issues related to criminal defense. Bill has an extensive history of service to NACDL, most recently serving as chair of NACDL’s Indigent Defense Committee.

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New Officers

E.G. “Gerry” Morris joins the NACDL officer ranks with his election as secretary of the Association. Gerry is a solo practitioner in Austin, Texas. He served as president of the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association from 1997 to 1998 and chair of the Criminal Defense Lawyers Project for grant years 2001 and 2002. Gerry was recognized in Best Lawyers of America and named one of Texas’ “SuperLawyers” in the field of criminal defense by Texas Monthly in 2003, 2004, and 2005. He has given numerous CLE presentations and lectures on criminal defense issues. Gerry Morris has been an active member of NACDL for many years, most recently serving as a co-chair of the Indigent Defense Committee, a member of the Budget Committee and co-chair of the Fourth Amendment Advocacy Committee.

Finally, Barry Pollack returns to Board service, after a one-year hiatus, pursuant to his designation by President Jim Lavine as NACDL’s parliamentarian. Barry is a partner at Miller & Chevalier, where he represents individuals and corporations in criminal investigations, trials, and other government enforcement proceedings. As a former CPA, he brings special expertise to complex financial matters. Barry has been extensively honored for his pro bono work representing the wrongfully convicted. In September 2008, Barry Pollack was inducted as a Fellow into the American College of Trial Lawyers. Barry also serves as president of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project. He has served NACDL in myriad capacities including as a chair of the White Collar Crime Committee and the DOJ Dialogue Committee.

Staff Transitions

Michael Connor is NACDL’s new membership director. He comes to NACDL from Independent Sector, the leading coalition of charities, foundations and corporate philanthropy programs, where he served for five years as membership director. Prior to that, he worked for seven years at the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), managing the membership database and all aspects of customer service. He is an active member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), where he served three years on the Membership Section Council, and has written and presented widely on database management, membership structures, and dues restructuring.

Michael’s prior employment afforded him the opportunity to work for two organizations whose missions are very important to him — helping higher learning institutions better manage their resources, and helping to preserve public faith in the charitable sector. At NACDL, he has a chance to serve “an organization whose work I care passionately about,” and has “the opportunity to meet new and very different professional challenges.” He further observed that “the extraordinary caliber of the staff I work with is just icing on the cake.”

It is with combined sadness at her departure, but joy at the opportunity that arose from her tenure at NACDL, that we extend hearty thanks and congratulations to Maureen Dimino, NACDL’s indigent defense counsel. Maureen will leave NACDL at the end of August to work for the Department of Justice in the Bureau of Justice Assistance. In her capacity as a policy analyst, she will help administer BJA’s program of national support for the criminal justice system. During her tenure at NACDL, Maureen has continued NACDL’s tradition of providing leadership and support for reform of indigent defense systems. She has been an eloquent and effective spokesperson for the reforms identified in the misdemeanor report, Minor Crimes, Massive Waste: The Terrible Toll of America’s Broken Misdemeanor Courts. Maureen recently launched major projects to effectuate reform in Colorado and Florida, and has guided NACDL’s continuing efforts in myriad locations, including Louisiana, Michigan, New York, and Texas.

Also, after more than five years at NACDL, Alison Alford, NACDL’s manager for information services, recently left to pursue her aspiration to work for the protection of the environment. Alison accepted a position at the Energy and Environment Study Institute. She held a variety of positions during her tenure at NACDL, as she was always ready and willing to accept new responsibilities. Throughout her tenure Alison displayed the utmost dedication and professionalism. She will be greatly missed, but we wish her every success as she pursues her career in a new and vitally important field.

A full biography of NACDL officers, directors, and staff members is available online at

Caitlin E. Parry assisted in the preparation of this article.