History of CACJ

In 1973 George Porter, tired of seeing the needs of criminal defense lawyers ignored, wrote a letter to the criminal defense attorneys throughout California proposing a statewide criminal defense organization. In September, the a group of defense lawyers met to discuss the need for such an organization, and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice was born!

What is CACJ?

California Attorneys for Criminal Justice is the California association of criminal defense lawyers.  It is an affiliate of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).

CACJ was founded in 1973, at the close of the Vietnam War and end of the Watergate investigations of President Nixon. The politics of Law and Order was in the ascendancy, with new crimes and longer periods of incarceration being passed everywhere. The civil rights and human dignity of those accused of crime were being attacked by law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts.

It was in this moment that George Porter’s call went out to defense attorneys proposing that defenders band together to fight the institutional power of the prosecution, and seek to bring balance to the justice system. To Ephraim Margolin, Lou Katz and many others this was a clarion call to stand up for justice for the accused in a more visible and more powerful way. CACJ was born.

From the beginning, CACJ advocated for criminal defense lawyers and for their clients. The Amicus Committee, started by Ephraim Margolin and now Chaired by John Philipsborn and Stephen Dunkle, has been tireless in filing briefs on behalf of CACJ as amicus curiae in countless causes. Over 50 cases in which CACJ participated resulted in published decisions, many vindicating important rights on the part of the accused.

CACJ also took an early and active role in proposing legislation and lobbying to defeat the perennial, and often counterproductive, "tough on crime" legislation so often proposed by politicians. To this day, the CACJ Legislative Committee, currently Co-Chaired by Eric Schweitzer, Elias Batchelder & Stephen Munkelt, is one of the most active parts of the organization. Through our CACJ legislative strategist, Ignacio Hernandez, the Committee and CACJ make a tremendous impact on legislation in Sacramento.

CACJ has provided the highest quality and most informative MCLE programs available for criminal defense lawyers. Our Awards Luncheon at the Annual Seminar in December recognizes exceptional contributions to justice, and provides inspiration to every defender. Seminars Chair Jeff Thoma and his team now put on several regular seminars each year, including the much anticipated Annual Seminar in San Francisco, the DUI Seminar in Palm Springs, the Appellate Practice Seminar alternating between San Diego and San Francisco, and the jointly sponsored seminars with CPDA in Monterey/San Diego for Capital Case Defense, and with NACDL in Las Vegas for Forensics.

CACJ has also been a strong advocate for an end to the Death Penalty. The Death Penalty Committee currently Co-Chaired by Bob Boyce and James Thomson meets regularly to deal with capital case issues. The Committee has met with the Chief Justice to help develop court policies and has put on regional CLE trainings on capital case issues. CACJ has worked closely with an affiliate organization, Death Penalty Focus (DPF), the ACLU and others on ballot measures to end capital punishment.

The CACJ office located in Sacramento runs the day-to-day activities of the organization. Executive Director Stephen Munkelt and staff also help channel the tremendous energy of the members of the Board of Governors, the Committees, and the active members of CACJ who make this organization as powerful as it is.

CACJ is an organization of people who share a mission: Our members stand up for people who do not have a voice. Members fight to achieve the goal that the justice system show respect to each and every person who is accused, and that prosecutors and judges follow the law.

Founding of CACJ

In 1973, I received a letter from George Porter inviting all “criminal defense” lawyers to a meeting at the San Francisco Airport. Some seventy “name“ lawyers received this invitation. Fifty-six lawyers of showed up for the meeting. This was the first time I met [George Porter].

Porter chaired our first meeting. He asked every person in attendance to speak for one minute to state whether we favored the creation of a criminal defense bar? At the time, the only organization we knew catered to civil or political ends. He articulated the voice of the criminal defense. It was a simple, but profound, question; did we want to join forces to balance the judicial-prosecutorial dialogue? Fifty-Six yes answers followed.

At the second meeting, he chaired a debate about our name, our by-laws, our dues, our functions and our structure. We spent over one hour debating the name. Some of us wanted to emphasize “criminal defense bar.” Some questioned the word “criminal.” Some argue for “bar association.” Some argue for the more fundamental concept of “justice.” It took an hour to iron out “California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.” Not a “bar”, not an “association”. Just “attorneys” for “criminal justice”.

Porter called for election of our first president: Dennis Merenbach of Santa Barbara, Paul Fitzgerald Beverly Hills and Ephraim Margolin of San Francisco, were nominated. Charles Gerry did not want to run. He would become our 1979 President. George Porter declined the nomination. He would be our third president, in 1976. Ephraim Margolin was elected.

And so was the evening and so was the morning of day one for the CACJ.

By Ephraim Margolin

California Attorneys for Criminal Justice Gratefully Recognizes our Founding Members for Their Insight and Motivation in Establishing the First State-Wide Association for Criminal Defense Attorneys to Improve the Criminal Justice System.

Proudly Protecting the U.S. Constitution for 45 Years!

Richard Alexander, San Jose
Jules Bonjour, Hayward
Marvin S. Cahn, Beaverton Oregon
Ramon Castro, San Diego
The Late Richard Erwin
The Late Paul J. Fitzgerald
Albert Caesar Garber, Los Angeles
The Late Charles Garry
Martha Goldin, Los Osos
Gerson Horn, Los Angeles
The Late Louis S. Katz, Oakland
John W. Kennedy, Jr., Laguna Beach
Matthew Kurilich, Tustin
Ephraim Margolin, San Francisco

Michael McClure, Santa Ana
Luke McKissack, Los Angeles
Dennis G. Merenbach, Santa Barbara
James H. Newhouse, Monterey
The Late George Porter
Sheldon Portman, Las Vegas Nevada
Robert Roberson, Pasadena
Harriet Ross, San Francisco
Marshall Schulman, San Francisco
Spencer Strellis, Oakland
Barry Tarlow, Los Angeles
Gerald Francis Uelmen, Santa Clara
George Walker, San Francisco
Howard L. Weitzman, Santa Monica

CACJ at 25

by Ephraim Margolin

As CACJ’s first president, Ephraim previously published in the FORUM a memoir of CACJ. "The Coming of Age, at 18", was published in Volume 18, No. 2, March/April 1991.

In 1991, I confessed in public that I was not CACJ’s father, but its mother. CACJ’s father was George Porter. Twenty-five years later I address you clad only in my panache. I remain inordinately proud of CACJ. CACJ did well. An overwhelming need to brag is natural when you cram into one essay 25 separate years, times 2,400 members each year, times all of our professional accomplishments, and add to that our unlimited future prospects. I brag with whiffs of nostalgia and justifiable pride.

It started in 1974 with sixty leading California criminal defense lawyers, all suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder, and each one convinced of being a much better lawyer than all the others put together. An aristocracy of egomaniacs, to the last one among us, flocked in response to George Porter’s invitation. We agreed to select as president only lawyers who practice law seven days a week, parent on the eighth and spouse (or date) on the ninth. Normal people were not invited. It was hard, but by a split vote we agreed not to have a hereditary presidency. We also did not invite prima donnas, who liked to occupy the stage for personal gratification and who could not or would not work anonymously for the benefit of all.

Amazingly, we did not have sixty nominations for presidency (though sixty members would have agreed to serve, if nominated). It took one meeting to decide to organize. It took two more meetings to decide on a name. We agonized over the address of our office. It took six months to set an agenda. We trained ourselves to repeat the word "budget", as one reflexively intones "not guilty" in court. We did not sleep when we accomplished dreams. Apathy never peaked. We did not know that in the course of 25 years we shall loose our A.D.D. status and become paranoid instead. If we judged our future by a crystal ball we would have ended up eating glass.

Our juvenile years coincided roughly with the Rose Bird era. We enlisted as soldiers in the war to defend the Bill of Rights; in 25 years we became soldiers for a "Bill of Rights, void where prohibited by law". Oscar Wilde once described two great tragedies in life: not getting what you want and not wanting what you get. He might have been writing about the conservative, goal oriented dismantling of the Bill of Rights. Speaking in a different context, Brecht said it best: "if you smile you have not heard the news."

From our first FORUM, first amicus brief and first C.L.E. program, we stemmed un-expectations. We claimed 500 members at the end of our first year and had 500 members in the second year and then, recruited members by the cubic ton. We grew. If our growth curve resembled the Dow Jones Yoyo, our future reflects a bullish market. At one C.L.E. seminar, we had 800 members in attendance - one member in three! One year, we filed 130 amicus briefs! We unsuccessfully challenged propositions in courts. We fought to stop and then to limit capital punishment in the state. When temporarily we lost that war, like sheep circling wolves, we turned to defend individual capital cases. Epidemic of inactivity came to an end.

We educated ourselves in D.U.I. and in forensic science seminars, in pre-trial, trial and appellate practice seminars. We overflowed with our rhetorical adrenaline. (Some of us overdid things and considered "hi" an act of aggression.) Most of us held the line. We sued successfully to force the Los Angeles district attorney to maintain files. We sued successfully to stop a Sheriff from engaging in politics on office time. We lobbied our state legislature. We became the California affiliate of the N.A.C.D.L. and helped influence national legislation. We supplied the missing voice of the criminal defense bar where previously only the prosecution and the judiciary pressed their views. We got us swiftly to a high C and after that there seemed nothing left but to come down. But we never came down.

After 17 years of service and some 1500 briefs, I rotated out as your Amicus Committee Chairman. You honored me with a plaque containing a pair of man’s briefs under glass proclaiming "no trespassing", "probable cause", "notice to produce", "grounds for contempt", "I object", "Search and seizure", "firm offer", etc. I felt too embarrassed to wear the briefs and much too pleased not to wear them. They hang on my wall now, under glass, mystifying my visitors.

And what is different after our 25 years? We lost much of the Fourth Amendment; lawyer voir dire; extended preliminary hearing; the right to counsel of choice. We lost compassion in our courts. We lost accountability for government errors. The very concept of "errors" became degraded and "harmless". We grew accustomed to losing seven to nothing. Why seven? Because there are only seven judges in our supreme court. We live in an uglier world now, a more unforgiving, cruel, deadly world, and we are not sure that any one cares.

Twenty-five years ago, I was inducted into the International Order for the Preservation of the Giraffe. The text of the induction reads: "For lawyers not afraid to stick out their necks". It was an induction meant for us all. Oscar Wilde said "the only duty we owe history is to re-write it". In the age of intellectual halitosis in our courts, long necks are needed.

From the brotherhood of good beginning we salute new heroes who keep C.A.C.J. on course. I believe that you are to Law what Fred Astaire was to dancing and Julia Child was to chicken. In the words of Henry the Fifth, "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, for he today that sheds his blood with me, shall be my brother..." We, "huddled masses yearning to be free" - We will make America live up to its promise.

History of CACJ 1973-1998

CACJ History


  • George Porter, tired of seeing the needs of criminal defense lawyers ignored, writes a letter to the criminal defense attorneys throughout California proposing a statewide criminal defense organization. In September, 60 defense lawyers meet to discuss the need for such an organization. California Attorneys for Criminal Justice is born. In October CACJ’s first president, Ephraim Margolin, edits the initial issue of a new publication intended solely for criminal defense attorneys entitled FORUM.


  • CACJ grows so rapidly that the Board of Governors decides to hire a part-time executive director for $200 per month. Harry Humphreys is selected, and his duties include editing FORUM.
  • On June 29, CACJ presents its first Criminal Law Seminar at the Marriott Hotel in Los Angeles.
  • December 6 marks CACJ’s first annual meeting. Held at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, it is followed the next day by CACJ’s first Fall Seminar, a tradition that will continue for the next 25 years and beyond.


  • Excerpt from the President’s Fall Seminar Address:

    We had an idea--it was not as majestic as a dream; simply an idea. It was an idea to join together. We are not joiners. We are proud, tough individuals. We had seen these organizations before. They were little more than chowder and marching societies. They were social clubs that entertained judges and included within their membership district attorneys, city attorneys and other prosecutors. We were skeptical.People told us that it could not be done. There were too many big egos. The state was too large, too diversified and the problems so different in many areas. We were also told that our organization was not self-interested enough. People had the temerity to suggest that such an organization would be self-defeating. If we were able to help people who were accused of crime through legislation and otherwise, we would lose money. We did it however. We started with goals to change the police/prosecutor monologue into a dialogue. We had a goal to tell the other side of the story to the Legislature, to the courts and to other lawyers, and we further promised to bind together to help one another with common problems. We succeeded and we succeeded beyond our expectations.
    --Paul Fitzgerald

  • Law Student members become eligible for CACJ membership, which now stands at 700.


  • CACJ membership reaches 1000. The seminars are unequaled in their excellence, drawing huge crowds, particularly the Fall Seminar in San Francisco.
  • With the August-September 1976 issue, FORUM’s first "glossy" issue, editorship is assumed by attorney Howard Bechefsky.


  • The August-September issue of FORUM features an interview with Supreme Court Associate Justice Wiley Manuel, beginning a tradition of FORUM interviews.
  • The first award for Significant Contributions to the Field of Criminal Justice is presented to the former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald R. Wright.


  • Charles Sevilla becomes editor of FORUM.
  • March marks the first CACJ/CPDA Death Penalty Defense Seminar. Attendees receive a death penalty manual consisting of two volumes of law and motions that is almost 1,000 pages in length.


  • CACJ Foundation is incorporated on April 6.
  • Article II, the specific and primary purpose for which this corporation is organized is to improve the quality of criminal justice by engaging in activities designed to educate judges, attorneys and members of the public and by developing and disseminating a body of new knowledge about the criminal justice system. This corporation shall be operated in connection with California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.• "Great Moments in Courtroom History" makes its first appearance in the January-February issue of FORUM.
  • In Mid-1979, a disbarred lawyer from New York, John Wilkes, walks into the CACJ office offering a manuscript on defense tactics and ethics for publication. Editor Sevilla throws him out, but not before Wilkes’ manuscript is rescued by the CACJ staff. It is published in the September-October issue of FORUM.
  • Winston K. Schoonover, formerly an associate in John Wilkes’ law firm, reads his former boss’ article, and decides to share his memories with the rest of CACJ. His story appears in the November-December 1979 issue of FORUM. Wilkesworld is born.
  • CACJ’s membership grows to 1,400 members, including 81 law student members.
  • Membership in CACJ is extended to allied professionals under the "Associate Member" category.


  • Anita Susan Brenner becomes editor of FORUM.
  • CACJ takes the lead in organizing a coalition that results in the prevention of numerous disasters in Sacramento, including: the proposed elimination of the diminished capacity defense; and the limitation of punitive damages in civil actions against police officers for excessive use of force, false imprisonment and false arrest.


  • CACJ increases its legislative activities, sponsoring AB 1464 (Bates). This bill, which would have allowed defendants to make restitution in lieu of imprisonment in non-violent felonies, passed the Assembly Criminal Justice Committee but subsequently died in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.


  • CACJ holds press conferences in Los Angeles and Sacramento to announce the formation of Californians for Responsible Law Enforcement in the campaign against Prop. 8, the Gann Initiative.
  • CACJ legislative activities finally meet with success when two CACJ-sponsored bills are enacted by the California Legislature: AB 2072 (Levine), which makes an addition to PC § 1000, establishing a model diversion program, and AB 2494 (Floyd), which amends PC § 1298 to allow the posting of real property as security for bail regardless of whether the property is technically held in the defendant’s name.
  • Proposition 8 hits California. CACJ publishes the 412-page Prop. 8 Handbook, distributed at the annual Fall Seminar.


  • CACJ President Gerald Uelmen writes in the March-April issue of FORUM of a dangerous initiative being planned called the Speedy Trial initiative. He voices concern about its draconian provisions which include: hearsay preliminary hearings; the elimination of attorney-conducted voir dire; nullification of Hovey and Hawkins; and non-unanimous juries. CACJ members attack the use of public funds by district attorneys in gathering signatures for the initiative in a civil suit filed in Los Angeles. As a result, the backers are unable to gather the necessary signatures, and the initiative does not qualify for the ballot.
  • In October Anne Fragasso becomes editor of FORUM.
  • CACJ celebrates it 10th Anniversary at the Fall Seminar in San Francisco. Chief Justice Rose Bird, Justice Stanley Mosk, Federal District Judge Alcee Hastings, Fred Korematsu, Gerry Spence, Bobby Lee Cook and Leonard Weinglass all contribute to the festivities.


  • CACJ publishes its first Expert Witness Directory, providing practitioners names of over 500 experts in 50 categories. This year also marks the publication of the third edition of CACJ’s Complete Sentencing Handbook.• CACJ’s holds its second Summer Retreat in Santa Cruz. Special guests include Flip Wilson and Geraldine.


  • The CACJ Amicus Committee, long recognized as the most vigorous and effective criminal defense amicus voice in California, filing over 100 amicus briefs a year, reaches new highs: amicus briefs are filed in the United State Supreme Court, California Supreme Court and several District Courts of Appeal, Federal District Courts, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the North Carolina Supreme Court. By 1991 the CACJ Amicus Committee will file over 1500 briefs, a tribute to its longtime chair, Ephraim Margolin.
  • Membership renewal rate rises from 66% (in 1983) to 80%.
  • Twelve Angry Men is shown as a fund-raiser for the CACJ Foundation and is attended by 180 people, netting over $1000.
  • The Contempt Committee is expanded to include an Attorney Assistance Program. The expanded program will be available to attorneys facing grand jury subpoenas, pretrial disqualification motions, harassment or other difficulties. A hotline is also established to put CACJ members in touch with other members who have special expertise in particular areas of the law such as entrapment, sexual molestation, etc.
  • CACJ presents "mini-seminars" on "Defense of Child Sexual Abuse Cases," at four locations throughout the state. The seminar syllabus will prove a top-selling publication for the next 5 years!


  • The politics of fear and deception raises its ugly head with the campaign to oust Chief Justice Rose Bird and Justices Joseph Grodin and Cruz Reynoso. CACJ President Alex Landon compares this threat to the independent judiciary to the establishment of the lawless "Special Section" court during the Nazi occupation of France, which existed only to implement the government’s agenda: Those who would say, "Oh, that happened under the Nazis, it can’t happen here," had better look to the agenda of the people currently trying to replace judges at all levels with individuals who are more result-oriented and will not be deterred by the law.... We are communicators and must utilize our communication skills, both oral and written, to counter the lies of those who would destroy our independent judiciary and the rights which protect all of us.
  • FORUM’s new design, with a two-color cover, debuts with the January-February issue.
  • The now widely-used Attorney Contempt Kit becomes available at a special seminar entitled "Defense Attorneys Under Siege: Offensive Strategies for Offensive Times."


  • After having debated the issue over several years, the CACJ Board of Governors decides to employ a full-time lobbyist to run our legislative program in Sacramento, marking the beginning of CACJ’s emergence as an important player in the Capitol scene.


  • CACJ grabs headlines throughout California as it leads the attack on the notorious Los Angeles jail-house informant scandal.
  • The first CACJ Trial Advocacy Workshop is held at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove. The program is wildly successful, topped off by a dinner dance at the beautiful Monterey Aquarium where music is provided by the widely acclaimed New Butte Creek Sextet.
  • CACJ membership increases to over 2,500 bona fide dues-paying members!
  • Foreseeing that CACJ’s regular income is not keeping up with the expenses of its many membership services and expanded legislative activities, the Board undertakes a major fund-raising event: the drawing at the fall seminar for a Mazda. This venture raises a whopping $31,000 for CACJ.


  • When Governor Deukmejian nominates Harvey Zall to be the new State Public Defender, CACJ undertakes formal opposition to his nomination in the Senate, despite being told that Zall is a virtual shoo-in. CACJ’s clout in Sacramento is confirmed when Zall withdraws his name from consideration in February. An unnamed deputy state public defender writes CACJ:
    The history of criminal defense is bejeweled with inspiring tales of lawyers who put their personal needs and benefits to one side as they stuck their necks out in furtherance of an ideal. That’s what drew a lot of us into this practice. Whenever I feel pride in our brotherhood-sisterhood of great lawyers, I’ll always think of [CACJ] .... I’ll also smile for a change when I write my annual check for CACJ dues.
  • After helping to expose the widespread use of unreliable jailhouse informants during the investigation of Leslie White (a.k.a. the Los Angeles informant scandal), CACJ introduces legislation in Sacramento, affectionately called the Jail House Snitch bill. This bill is the first legislation in California history that imposes requirements on prosecutors relating to jailhouse informants.


  • CACJ raises over a quarter of a million dollars in the fight to defeat the misnamed Victims’ Bill of Rights initiative, Proposition 115. Members throughout the state volunteer to speak, write and meet with editiorial boards in the attempt to derail Prop. 115.
  • Although unsuccessful, CACJ learns valuable lessons from the Prop. 115 campaign. The Public Information Committee is expanded and strengthened, becoming a model that is copied by other organizations. The CACJ Foundation is bolstered for the purpose of educating the public about the role of the criminal defense lawyer and the Constitution.
  • CACJ rushes to prepare defense lawyers for the changes instituted by Prop. 115 with seminars in Los Angeles, San Diego and Palo Alto. Over 1,100 attorneys are urged by seminar speakers to take a stand against prosecutorial discovery ( and other provisions of dubious constitutionality).
  • The CACJ/CPDA Death Penalty Defense Seminar is by now the most successful program of its kind in the nation; lawyers from every state that has capital punishment have attended. The CACJ/CPDA California Death Penalty Defense Manual, edited by Bryan Shechmeister, has become a separate publication of five volumes that includes motions on diskette, making it the most advanced treatise on death penalty law in the nation.


  • CACJ’s Public Information Committee and the CACJ Foundation produce the highly acclaimed series of public service announcements (PSA’s) featuring actor Richard Dysart (L.A. Law) in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Bill of Rights. The PSA’s are shown in entirety to the membership at the fall "Bill of Rights" seminar and win the 1991 Pirate award for the best national media campaign.
  • Attendance at the annual CACJ/CPDA Death Penalty Defense seminar, held in Monterey, surpasses 1,050.
  • With the institution of mandatory education requirements for lawyers in California, CACJ becomes an approved provider of Minimum Continuing Legal Education credits and plans six major statewide seminars for 1992.


  • The first Death Penalty College, for training lawyers who are handling their first capital cases, is held at the University of Santa Clara Law School in August. This intensive program is an overwhelming success. It is named in honor of the late Bryan Shechmeister, a CACJ member who was an instigator of the college and a source of inspiration to the entire capital defense community; he will be remembered gratefully during each session of the Bryan R. Shechmeister Death Penalty College.
  • The CACJ Newsletter is created to keep the membership informed about CACJ action and provide a medium for exchanging information.
  • CACJ contributes $10,000 to an ACLU-coordinated media campaign to sway public opinion and avert the execution of Robert Alton Harris, a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome. CACJ members rally with organizers from Death Penalty Focus, protesting the reinstitution of state sanctioned murder. On April 21, Harris becomes the first person to have been executed in California since 1967.


  • CACJ lobbies hard against the California District Attorneys’ Association’s (CDAA) proposed asset forfeiture law because of its draconian provisions. Members work with our lobbyist to bring the abuses of asset forfeiture to the attention of the public and the legislature. Attorney General Dan Lungren joins in the fray, lobbying for the District Attorneys’ bill. After CDAA is badly out-maneuvered, the forfeiture bill is routed, dying on the Assembly floor.
  • CACJ expands the summer Trial Advocacy Workshop to include a simultaneous Appellate Advocacy Workshop. The workshops are attended by 100 registrants who kick off the weekend by rockin’ with the Barry Melton Band at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
  • CACJ sponsors its first Federal Practice Seminar and attracts 150 lawyers from throughout the state who give the program rave reviews.
  • New editions of The Complete Sentencing Handbook and the Contempt Defense Manual are published by CACJ, the former in hard cover (CACJ’s first!) and the latter with an optional computer diskette to expedite the production of motions.


  • Despite vigorous attempts to defeat the measure, the state legislature passes the so-called "Three Strikes" bill, dramatically increasing sentences for both non-violent and violent offenses for those with prior convictions. Within 6 weeks of the enactment of the new law, CACJ conducts 6 "Three Strikes" seminars throughout the state, and publishes a companion syllabus to assist attorneys representing clients in "Three Strikes" cases.
  • The CACJ Foundation provides a $5,000 grant to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice for a study on the effects of the new "Three Strikes" law.
  • The State Bar Board of Governors adopts CACJ’s Standards for the Appointment and Performance of Counsel in Death Penalty Cases.
  • In his first President’s column in the FORUM, CACJ President James S. Thomson predicts that the Supreme Court’s new "flat-fee" system in capital cases will exacerbate the court’s difficulty in finding qualified counsel to accept appointment in appeal and state habeas.
  • CACJ’s Amicus Committee, headed by John Philipsborn, files briefs in a number of important cases, including those where public defenders were held in contempt or threatened with contempt for refusal to represent clients in cases where there was a conflict of interest with other defender clients; a case where the district attorney accepted funds from private parties for ancillary services where the private parties had an interest in the prosecution; and "Three Strikes" cases.
  • CACJ supports the ballot initiative that will place public members on the Commission on Judicial Performance, and further open the process by which judges are disciplined. CACJ opposes the anti-affirmative action initiative, and a proposed rule that will limit attorney comment on pending cases, even if the attorney is not representing one of the parties in the case.
  • Larry Gibbs becomes editor of FORUM, replacing CACJ President-Elect Anne E. Fragasso, who had served as editor for 11 years.
  • CACJ moves back to Los Angeles from its office in Culver City.


  • The CACJ Board of Governors adopts new Bylaws. Article IV sets out CACJ’s specific purposes:
    - to defend the rights of persons as guaranteed by the United States Constitution, the Constitution of the State of California and other applicable law;- to preserve due process and equal protection of the law for the benefit of all persons;
    - to enhance the ability of its members to discharge their professional responsibilities through educational programs, publications and mutual assistance; and
    - to protect and foster the independence of the criminal defense lawyer and to improve the quality of the administration of justice.
  • CACJ becomes a plaintiff in a suit challenging the Los Angeles and Santa Monica police practice of questioning suspects "outside" Miranda. The suit is filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and USC's Post-Conviction Law Project.
  • Declaring that he had committed a "serious ethical offense", CACJ asks the Commission on Judicial Performance to discipline Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas for his endorsement of Attorney General Dan Lungren’s candidacy for governor.
  • The first commemorative program book is published in conjunction with CACJ’s Significant Contributions to Criminal Justice Award. Tributes and ads honor award winners Patrick Hallinan, John Keker and Jan Little. A special President's Award is presented to the Simpson defense team.
  • CACJ endorses the ballot initiative that would permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. CACJ opposes any attempt, whether by ballot initiative or legislation, to weaken or eliminate affirmative action.


  • In a tremendous victory for justice and for our clients, CACJ saves unanimous jury verdicts. An attempt to qualify a non-unanimous jury verdicts initiative for the ballot is withdrawn; the Assembly Judiciary Committee kills a 10-2 verdicts bill, and the Judicial Council decides to table a recommendation from its own Blue Ribbon Commission that less than unanimous verdicts be permitted. Contributing to the preservation of unanimous jury verdicts was CACJ’s first Lobby Day, when members came together in Sacramento to meet with leadership and members of the Senate and Assembly.
  • CACJ also defeated attempts to eliminate peremptory challenges, to "reform" state death penalty appeals, state habeas and juvenile cases, and to further restrict judges’ discretion in "Three Strikes" cases.
  • Represented pro bono by CACJ Past President Robert Berke, CACJ files a taxpayer suit against the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, charging that its destruction of felony case records is an abuse of taxpayer dollars. A Superior Court judge issues a preliminary injunction barring the destruction of DA felony case records.
  • Responding to the tough restrictions on habeas corpus in a new Federal law, CACJ conducts Habeas Corpus seminars in Northern and Southern California for 180 participants within weeks of the passage of the new law.
  • CACJ contributes $1,000 to help fund a new NACDL Death Penalty Resource Counsel housed at the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, GA.


  • CACJ wins a second preliminary injunction against the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, banning it from destroying misdemeanor case files. The CACJ Foundation announces the formation of the 2400 Club, to raise funds to support important impact litigation like the suit against the DA’s office.
  • Amicus briefs are filed in cases involving police questioning in violation of Miranda, the retroactivity of the habeas provisions in the 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, limitations on discovery, the right to a jury trial in juvenile felonies, and ineffective assistance of counsel.
  • A new CACJ Immigration Law and Practice Committee is created to help educate the membership about the immigration consequences of criminal cases.
  • CACJ is instrumental in the failure of bills that would permit anonymous juries, seal search warrant affidavits, and "reform" the juvenile system and state habeas corpus. A new Habeas Resource Center will be headed by a director selected by an independent Board of Directors (instead of by the Governor) thanks to CACJ.


  • CACJ celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Past Presidents join other members at a gala reception following John Keker’s presentation of the Charles R. Garry Memorial Lecture. Michael E. Tigar, the Kaczynski defense team and Susan McDougal are honored during CACJ’s 25th Anniversary Seminar. McDougal is presented with CACJ’s first Profiles in Courage Award for her refusal to be intimidated into testifying before the Whitewater grand jury.
  • CACJ launches two DUI seminars - one each in Northern and Southern California.
  • CACJ publishes a new edition of the Contempt Defense Manual, and CACJ and CPDA publish a new edition of the Death Penalty Defense Manual.
  • CACJ and other groups defeat repressive juvenile "justice" legislation, and begin the effort to defeat a juvenile "justice" initiative sponsored by lame-duck Governor Pete Wilson. CACJ also helps to kill a bill that would eliminate any voluntary intoxication defense.
  • Amicus briefs are filed in cases challenging the legality of the psychiatric return process conducted by the Board of Prison Terms to incarcerate parolees who cannot be civilly committed, and the practice of Federal prosecutors who require that an accused waive Brady rights as part of a plea agreement.
  • Kathleen Kahn becomes the editor of CACJ’s FORUM magazine.

The Clarence Darrow Society

CACJ would like to thank The Clarence Darrow Society members for their continued commitment and support of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and for their generous contribution to building our new website, helping to bring CACJ into the 21st Century!

With their donation CACJ is on the right path to reach our goal; to make this website a valuable resource for our members. They have made an impact on enhancing the well-being of this organization, which has been making a difference in the Criminal Law profession and practice for 35 years.

The Clarence Darrow Society Members

Cris Arguedas
Michael McDonnell
La Habra
Richard Berman
Ann C. Moorman
Ted W. Cassman
Douglas Rappaport
San Francisco
William H. DuBois
Jeffrey R. Stein
San Luis Obispo
John Keker
San Francisco
Ronald Jackson
Rickard Santwier
Elisabeth Semel
Jeffrey Kent
La Habra
James Thomson