Washington, DC (November 10, 2011) – NACDL today releases a groundbreaking new report on restoring and reforming the grand jury system-- Evaluating Grand Jury Reform in Two States: The Case for Reform. This research reflects an in-depth study of grand jury reform in two states – New York and Colorado. In conducting this study, researchers Erin Crites, Jon Gould and Colleen Shepard of the Center for Justice, Law & Society at George Mason University studied the experiences of prosecutors, defense lawyers and retired judges. Four key reform recommendations emerge from the research: (i) defense representation in the grand jury room, (ii) production of witness transcripts for the defense, (iii) advance notice for witnesses to appear, and (iv) the presentation of exculpatory evidence to the grand jury.
In order to return the grand jury system to the independent and legitimate function envisioned by the framers of the Constitution, there is much to be learned from the Colorado and New York systems. This report illustrates how reforms such as having a witness’s lawyer in the grand jury room and requiring prosecutors to present exculpatory evidence to the grand jury are viewed by both sides of the courtroom as increasing the accuracy, effectiveness and legitimacy of the grand jury. In addition, as the report’s findings uniformly demonstrate, NACDL’s proposed grand jury reforms have no harmful effects.
As former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Larry Thompson wrote in the foreword, “For an accusatory process that on its face emphasizes the role of the citizen, the grand jury is a patently un-democratic body…I say this having sought countless indictments before grand juries and having overseen the Justice Department’s work to promulgate uniform rules for federal prosecutions, including grand jury proceedings. Simply put, the federal grand jury exists today, for the most part, as a rubber stamp for prosecutors.”
NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer explained, “The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that ‘[n]o person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on presentment or indictment by a grand jury.’ Unfortunately, today’s federal grand jury system, and indeed that of many states, bears no resemblance to the independent body familiar to America’s founders.”
Evaluating Grand Jury Reform in Two States: The Case for Reform marks an important contribution to the public discourse and efforts to reform a broken grand jury system.
The full report is available here. A podcast message from NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer is available here.
A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.
Ivan J. Dominguez, Deputy Director of Public Affairs & Communications, (202) 465-7662 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal legal system.