"I have always been inspired and assisted by my colleagues in CACJ. I first got involved in CACJ by testifying and help refining the first California DNA laws almost 25 years ago, and was so moved that CACJ had taken the lead in the legislative testimony on the proposed DNA Act, I became actively involved. Our legislative and amicus presence, as well as our FORUM magazine, have only become stronger over time. I am more impressed than ever that a private organization like ours is generally the strongest voice, and often the only voice, on issues crucial to criminal defense."

Jeff Thoma, Past President 2015

"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

"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

"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 Secretary

"As criminal defense attorneys we regularly make 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

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 Secretary

"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, Past President & Founding Member

"CACJ is like a beacon in the distance through the fog and heavy mist.  It is where we will strive to meet and find our finest selves, where we will become the best lawyers we can be, and where we will work together to change the world and make it a better place for ourselves, our children, and most importantly, our clients."

John Crouch

"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

"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, Board Member

"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, Board Member

"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

"For 40 years, CACJ has been a powerful voice for criminal defense attorneys and their clients. It has impacted laws that protect the rights of the convicted and accused and provided defense attorneys with education, advocacy  and community. CACJ's strength, purpose and longevity make it a cornerstone of criminal justice in California."

Laurel Headley

"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

"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

"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, CACJ President

"It has been my pleasure to serve as President of CACJ. In that capacity I have met and worked with many people who are truly committed to the defense of others and the idea that there can and should be equal justice for all. Thank you for the opportunity."

Christopher Chaney, Past President

"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

“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

"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

"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 Treasurer

"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 Vice-President

"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

"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

"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

Breaking News: CACJ’s co-sponsored SB 1052 passed the Assembly floor today

CACJ's co-sponsored bills, SB 1052, authored by Senator Ricardo Lara, passed the assembly floor today. SB 1052 adds section 625.6 to the Welfare and Institutions Code to require that juveniles have access to legal counsel before waiving their Miranda rights during a custodial interrogation. The bill will get to Governor Brown in the next week, and then he will have until the end of September to take action.

This bill stems from the California Supreme Court’s decision to deny review inIn re Joseph H. Justice Goodwin Liu, in his dissenting opinion stated that the case, “raises an important legal issue that likely affects hundreds of children each year: whether and, if so, how the concept of a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent Miranda waiver can be meaningfully applied to a child as young as 10 years old.” He also wrote that the “Legislature may wish to take up this issue in light of this court’s decision not to do so here.”

CACJ’s sponsored AB 1909 passed the Senate floor

AB 1909, authored by Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, would amend Penal Code 141, creating a felony for prosecuting attorneys who knowingly and intentionally withhold exculpatory evidence.

This bill is a continuation of CACJ's push to highlight and address prosecutorial misconduct, which CACJ has made a priority in the past few legislative sessions.

Sacramento debating felony status for prosecutorial misconduct

Last week, Ignacio Hernandez, CACJ’s long-time lobbyist, spoke on KPCC, a Southern California Public Radio station, on our prosecutorial misconduct sponsored bill AB 1909. This bill was authored by Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, and would amend Penal Code 141, creating a felony for prosecuting attorneys who knowingly and intentionally withhold exculpatory evidence.

Listen here

CACJ's bills are moving through the legislature

CACJ's co-sponsored bill, SB 1242, which makes PC 18.5 apply retroactively, passed the Assembly floor. The bill will return to the Senate for a concurrence vote. After that vote, the bill heads to the Governor's office for final consideration.

CACJ's co-sponsored legislation AB 813, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, which creates a post-conviction relief vehicle, passed the senate floor. AB 813 is a two-year bill that adds section 1473.7 to the Penal Code to create a vehicle for post-conviction relief in instances of ineffective assistance of counsel that has led to an adverse immigration consequence or where there is new evidence of actual innocence.

On the Assembly side, AB 1909, which creates a felony for bad-acting prosecutors when violating their Brady obligation, both made it off of suspense.

In the Senate, two co-sponsored bills, SB 1052, which requires minors to have legal counsel before waiving their Miranda rights, and SB 1389, which requires the electronic recording of custodial interrogations for persons suspected of homicide, both made it out of suspense.

CACJ's bill on prosecutorial misconduct featured in the OC Register

In a recent OC Register article, “Prosecutors who falsify or withhold evidence could become felons under proposed state legislation,” CACJ’s long time legislative advocate, Ignacio Hernandez, comments about prosecutorial misconduct and the recent OC jail house informant scandal, “Orange County’s controversy reinforces the need to increase the penalties for prosecutorial misconduct...We’re seeing the problem in many parts of the state, in many counties.”

This year, CACJ is sponsoring AB 1909, authored by Assemblywoman Patty Lopez, which aims to create a felony for prosecuting attorneys who intentionally and in bad faith withhold exculpatory evidence. This bill is in response to the OC scandal and the growing epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.

IN THE NEWS: Civil Asset Forfeiture Restrictions May Soon Become Law

SB 443, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell and supported by CACJ, would require a criminal conviction before police could take permanent action if the property is worth less than $40,000. A recent compromise between the advocates and opponents, on the monetary threshold, has led to major law enforcement groups dropping their opposition to the bill. “The $40,000 threshold is an attempt to balance advocates’ desire that those in poverty don’t lose their property unless they’re convicted of wrongdoing and law enforcement’s interest in preserving its ability to go after large criminal enterprises, Mitchell said.”

The bill is expected to be voted on in the Assembly in the coming days, and will then need approval by the Senate as well as the Governor Brown before it becomes law.

Read More Here

Join CACJ in San Francisco for CACJ's Appellate Pratice Seminar

September 10th at the San Francisco Bar Association, 301 Battery Street, San Francisco

Registration begins at 8:00am

Speakers include: Al Menaster, Laura Arnold, Chuck Sevilla, & George Schraer, Bill Robinson, Stefanie Sada & John L. Moore, and Doug Feinberg.

Sessions include: Primer on Federal Habeas Corpus: How to take the Plunge and Swim like a Champion, Turning Murder to Manslaughter & Murder and Madness, Prop 47 Issues, Putting Your Best Foot Forward: A Research Attorney's Perspective On Effective Argument (Written and Oral) in the Court of Appeal, and more!

CACJ's SB 1052 featured in The Chronicle of Social Change

CACJ’s Co-Sponsored SB-1052 Custodial interrogation: juveniles, by Senators Lara and Mitchell, was recently featured in The Chronicle of Social Change. SB 1052 adds section 625.6 to the Welfare and Institutions Code to require that juveniles have access to legal counsel before waiving their Miranda rights during a custodial interrogation. “You don’t let a 10-year-old make any legal decision, let alone one with potentially enormous consequences in waiving a constitutional right,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the UC Irvine School of Law, regarding the Joseph H. case that sparked the need for this legislation. Justice Goodwin Liu, in his dissenting opinion stated that the case, “raises an important legal issue that likely affects hundreds of children each year: whether and, if so, how the concept of a voluntary, knowing, and intelligent Miranda waiver can be meaningfully applied to a child as young as 10 years old.” He also wrote that the “Legislature may wish to take up this issue in light of this court’s decision not to do so here.”

Read more here.

Governor Jerry Brown signed CACJ’s Sponsored Bill AB 2655 into law

CACJ's sponsored bail exoneration bill, AB 2655, authored by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego), was signed on July 22nd by Governor Jerry Brown. The bill amends Penal Code 1305 to prevent the unjust practice of alleged defendants having to post bail twice due to no fault of their own, giving them the option of extending their bail for up to 90 days if the DA fails to file charges. Before People v. Lumberman’s Insurance, (2010) 190 Cal. App. 4th, 823, the general court practice was to continue an arraignment and allow a court to retain jurisdiction over a defendant’s bond. However, following the Lumberman’s case, if a prosecutor does not file a criminal complaint within the statutory 15 days, the court loses jurisdiction over the bond. If the DA files charges after the statutory 15-day limit, the defendant, in some counties, have been forced to post a second bond and pay additional premiums.

Read the language of the bill here.

California Votes 2016: An Analysis of the Competing Death Penalty Ballot Initiatives

Loyola Law published their report regarding the 2016 California death penalty initiatives. The report, written by Paula Mitchell, the Executive Director of Alarcón Advocacy, and Nancy Haydt, CACJ Death Penalty Committee Co-Chair and Board Member, looks at the current state of the Death Penalty, as well as the 2 different initiatives that address the current system's dysfunction and failures. It includes an in depth look at both Prop 62 and Prop 66, how they will work, and if they will achieve their goals.

Read the full report here.

CACJ Supports CA Proposition 62: Death Penalty repeal initiative

Proposition 62 repeals the death penalty as maximum punishment for people found guilty of murder, replacing it with life without possibility of parole. It also applies retroactively to those already sentenced to death. People found guilty of murder must work while in prison and up to 60% of their wages may be applied to victim restitution. This initiative is expected to reduce net state and local costs by around $150 million annually within a few years.

The Justice That Works campaign submitted nearly double the required signatures to qualify their initiative to the end the death penalty in California for the November ballot. Justice That Works 2016 is gearing up for the statewide vote on Proposition 62. CACJ calls on our members to end the death penalty in California by supporting the Justice that Works Act of 2016. Please support the measure by DONATING to the campaign. This is our moment to make history.

  • Eliminates the possibility of executing an innocent person
  • Saves $1 billion dollars over the next 7 years
  • Serious offenders must work and pay restitution to victim’s families

CACJ Opposes CA Prop 66

Proposition 66, the Death Penalty Reform & Savings Act, changes procedures regarding appeals and petitions challenging convictions, including designating superior court for initial petitions, limiting successive petitions, and imposing time limits on reviews. It requires additional appointed attorneys to accept death penalty appeals, making prison officials exempt from existing regulations in the process of developing execution methods, authorizes inmate transfers, and inmates must work and pay victim restitution.

Proposition 66, is a confusing and flawed measure that would increase taxpayer costs by millions while increasing California’s risk of executing an innocent person. This measure is modeled after laws from states like Texas, where authorities have executed innocent people. Prop. 66 would cost California taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. This measure is so confusing and poorly written that its provisions would lead to costly mistakes, add to the bureaucracy in our legal system and ultimately create more delays.

Please visit www.cafairjustice.org to learn more about the campaign.


Current Issue is now on-line!

Current Legislation

| AB 813 | AB 1909 | AB 2655 |
| SB 1052 | SB 1202 |
| SB 1242 | SB 1389 |

Justice That Works 2016


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