Annual Criminal Defense Seminar

CACJ's 46th Annual Criminal Defense Seminar
& Awards Luncheon

This highly attended seminar is held in San Francisco and offers practitioners and allied professionals from throughout the state the very best practice tips from the masters. CACJ's Annual Seminar feature only the masters of contemporary trial tactics, state- and nationally-recognized experts on critical leading-edge issues, and headline legislators, heroes, movers and shakers in the fight for criminal justice. These respected presenters provide substantial insight into the issues that challenge the criminal defense bar in California.

Like all CACJ seminars, this event presents the unique opportunity to develop both professional and personal contacts in an atmosphere of camaraderie. Grow your referral base as you meet wonderful new friends from all around the state of California and beyond. Bring the family to enjoy one of the world's greatest cities at its most enchanted time of the year.

Save the date
December 4 & 5, 2020


General Information

Friday, December 6th, 2019

Charles R. Garry Memorial Lecture 5:30pm - 6:30pm
Robert Sanger- - The Death Penalty in California- The Moratorium & The Future
1.0 Hr MCLE

Reception 6:30pm - 7:30pm

CACJ Board Meeting 7:30pm - 9:00pm

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

Registration and Check-in 7:30am - 8:30am

Seminar 8:30am - 4:45pm
6.25 hours MCLE including elimination of bias.

Awards Luncheon 12:15pm - 1:30pm

Seminar Coordinator
Jeffrey E. Thoma

Speakers & Sessions

Al Menaster, Esq.
The 2019 Year in Review

Nan Whitfield, Esq.
Implicit Bias and The Criminal Justice System

Rick Jones, Esq.
Just Another Black Man: How the Criminal Legal System Perpetuates a Racist Trope
an interview with Albert Woodfox

Norman Reimer, Esq.
The Trial Penalty

James Thomson, Esq.
Zadvocacy - The Art, Skill and Magic of Advocacy in the Pre-Apocalyptic World!

Tony Serra, Esq.
Contrast Between Practicing Criminal Law in the 60s and Today


Award Recipients

Lifetime Achievement Award

Elisabeth Semel & James Thomson

Legislative Champion

Governor Gavin Newsom

Profile in Courage

Albert Woodfox

President's Award


Special Guest Albert Woodfox

Albert Woodfox
Finalist, 2019 National Book Awards



Albert Woodfox is the last of the Angola 3 to be released.  He was released on his birthday, February 19th, 2016 after his conviction had been overturned a total of three times, spanning the years between 1992-2015.  Motivated by the many years it took to be heard, Albert has made a life-long commitment to continue his activism and advocacy on behalf of all those wrongfully imprisoned due to the multiple abuses of the criminal justice system; prosecutorial misconduct, missing or false evidence, bad science, racism. As a former member of the Black Panther Party he hopes to be a voice for the voiceless, suffering under brutal prison conditions. His recently published book,  Solitary, has been shortlisted for this years National Book Award.


Solitary is the unforgettable life story of a man who served more than four decades in solitary confinement―in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell, 23 hours a day, in notorious Angola prison in Louisiana―all for a crime he did not commit. That Albert Woodfox survived was, in itself, a feat of extraordinary endurance against the violence and deprivation he faced daily. That he was able to emerge whole from his odyssey within America’s prison and judicial systems is a triumph of the human spirit, and makes his book a clarion call to reform the inhumanity of solitary confinement in the U.S. and around the world.

Arrested often as a teenager in New Orleans, inspired behind bars in his early twenties to join the Black Panther Party because of its social commitment and code of living, Albert was serving a 50-year sentence in Angola for armed robbery when on April 17, 1972, a white guard was killed. Albert and another member of the Panthers were accused of the crime and immediately put in solitary confinement by the warden. Without a shred of actual evidence against them, their trial was a sham of justice that gave them life sentences in solitary. Decades passed before Albert gained a lawyer of consequence; even so, sixteen more years and multiple appeals were needed before he was finally released in February 2016.

Remarkably self-aware that anger or bitterness would have destroyed him in solitary confinement, sustained by the shared solidarity of two fellow Panthers, Albert turned his anger into activism and resistance. The Angola 3, as they became known, resolved never to be broken by the grinding inhumanity and corruption that effectively held them for decades as political prisoners. He survived to give us Solitary, a chronicle of rare power and humanity that proves the better spirits of our nature can thrive against any odds.

 Mr Woodfox will be available to do a booksigning, purchase his book and bring it with you!


Special Appearance has been generously sponsored by



Charles R. Garry Memorial Lecture



At this year’s Garry Lecture, Bob Sanger first takes us back to a time that was formative both for CACJ and for his own practice of law.  The period in the late 1960’s leading up to the founding of CACJ was one in which the death penalty was shown for what it was – arbitrary and racist.  Then, in 1972, the death penalty as then implemented was found unconstitutional in Furman v. Georgia.  Immediately thereafter, in 1973, the year Bob started practicing law and the year CACJ was founded, there was a vicious backlash to the Furman decision.  Fighting against the renewed efforts to reinstate the death penalty became a fundamental focus of CACJ and a significant part of the practice of law by lawyers of that generation.  One of the first two committees formed by CACJ was the Death Penalty Committee which persists to this day.

Previous Speakers

| Ephraim Margolin, 2018 | Gerry Schwartzbach, 2017 | Matt Cherry, 2016 | Tamara Brady, 2015 | James Egar, 2014 | John Cleary, 2013 | Natasha Minsker, 2012 | Donald Specter, Prison Law Office, 2011 | Tony Tamburello & Karen Jo Koonan, 2010 | Panel: Penny Cooper, Cris Arguedas, & Soffiyah Elijah, 2009 | Panel: Tom Nolan, Chuck Sevilla, Lis Semel, Ephraim Margolin, Gerald Uelman, and Lou Katz, 2008 | J. Tony Serra 2007 |Marcia Morrissey 2006 | Magistrate Judge James Larson, & Dennis Riordan, & John Philipsborn 2005 | Jeff Adachi 2004 | M. Gerald Schwartzbach 2003 | Louis Katz 2002 | Bryan Shechmeister 1992 | James Cooney 1989 | Charles R. Garry 1988 |

Charles R. Garry

Charles Garry was an American civil rights attorney who represented a number of high-profile clients in political cases during the 1960s and 1970s, including the Peoples Temple in Jonestown during the 1978 tragedy that occurred at that location. In 1968, he was retained by the Black Panther Party both as their chief counsel, and to defend Huey P. Newton in the 1967 slaying of Oakland Police Officer John Frey. Newton was convicted on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Subsequently, he defended Black Panther Chairman Bobby Seale. Garry was famous for flair and courtroom dramatics, and one policeman, under intense questioning, jumped from the witness stand and pulled his gun on him. Charles Garry served as President of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice in 1979.


Registration Information

Seminar Tuition

Early Bird rates are below, and expire on November 1, 2019
Pre-Registration rates begin November 2, and end November 22, 2019

Registration Deadlines

Pre-Registration Deadline- Friday, November 22, 2019

To obtain the discounted pre-registration rate for this seminar;
CACJ must receive your completed pre-registration form and payment by the deadline

On-line registration will continue to remain available after the deadline but will reflect the standard registration rate including a $30 increase in registration.
On-Site Registration will be available at the standard rate.

Free Seminar Tuition

If you are a Life Member or Patron Member and wish to register for this seminar by using your FREE tuition, please enter in the code ANNUALSEMINARLIFE or ANNUALSEMINARPATRON at registration, or contact the CACJ office: or 916-643-1800.

Group Discounts

Groups of five (5) or more from the same office or organization who pre-register as a group, by the pre-registration deadline, are eligible for a 15% discount on the pre-registration rate.

If registering for a group on-line, enter code ANNUALGROUP15 at registration for each of the attendees in your group.

You can request an invoice by emailing and including attendee names, SBN, and email addresses.

NLDs do not qualify for any additional group discounts as they are heavily discounted already, however you may include them in your group count.

Cancellations and Substitutions

Refunds, less a $30 processing fee, will be sent only for those cancellations received by the pre-registration deadline. No refunds will be sent for cancellations received after this deadline. It is possible, however, to substitute one person on another registration. Substitutions are permitted for group registrations. Please email with your cancellation notice.


Hotel & Parking

Hotel Reservations

Experience the fine art of hospitality and the ultimate in personal service set in the midst of a city world-famous for its charming history and cutting-edge style. Hotel Nikko, just steps from Union Square in the heart of San Francisco, offers up top-tier entertainment at Feinstein's, bold Asian-inspired California flavors at ANZU, an expansive health club, glass enclosed indoor pool, and beautiful views of the city and surrounding bay. Explore the best of the city within moments, and retreat to your own private, urban refuge, designed with a modern, Asian influence.

Hotel Nikko San Francisco
222 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

Room Block 2019 | Reservations Link

Or call 415-394-1111 or 800-248-3308
and mention
California Attorneys for Criminal Justice


Hotel Nikko offer valet parking only. The valet entrance is located at 180 Ellis Street.
1st hour is $25.00, then $5.00 per each additional 30 minutes.

Overnight parking with in and out privileges for standard size vehicles $65.00 dollars per night (taxes included) and $75.00 dollars per night for oversized vehicles (taxes included).
Our overnight parking is based on a 24 hour timeline and advance reservations are not required.

Mason O’Farrell Garage
325 Mason Street
(415) 673-6757
(Across the street from Hotel Nikko)

Self-parking garage from 4th floor and up
Hours: Open 24hrs
Cost to park for 24 hours: $39.00 with in & out privileges (See cashier before you exit).

Union Square Garage
333 Post Street
(415) 397-0631
(10 minutes walking distance from Hotel Nikko)

Self-parking garage Website:
Hours: Open 24hrs
Cost to park for 24 hours: $36.00 this parking garage does not provided in & out privileges


Sponsors & Exhibitors


The 46th Annual Criminal Defense Seminar offers marketing and promotional opportunities that will suit every budget. If you are looking for a one-stop location to promote your product or service to new clients, then put the Annual Criminal Defense Seminar & Awards Luncheon on your promotional calendar.

Download the 2019 Sponsor & Exhibitor Packet Here

Affiliates & Affinity Partners