Public Relations

Public Relations

CACJ wages a continuing statewide campaign for effective criminal justice policies in California. CACJ calls on all political leaders to rationally debate criminal justice issues and refrain from advocating from simple, quick-fix solutions that do not work.

CACJ and its members are outspoken criminal defense advocates who welcome the opportunity to tell the public the other side of the stories they often hear from the "Tough on Crime" crowd.

Press releases are issued by Hernandez Strategy Group, the Legislative Committee, the Executive Committee, and/or the Board President. Please refer to the Legislative Committee or Public Relations for more information. We invite members of the media to contact the following staff, Officers, or Public Information Committee Chairs for further information.

Public Information Contacts:

Eric Schweitzer

CACJ President
Public Information Committee Chair

Stephen Munkelt

CACJ Executive Director
Phone: (916) 643-1800

Ignacio Hernandez

CACJ Lobbyist
Phone: (916) 447-9719

CACJ Commends Governor Newsom for Bold Leadership Regarding Death Penalty

This morning Governor Gavin Newsom, flanked by many legislators including past CACJ award recipients State Senator Holly Mitchell, State Senator Scott Wiener, and Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, officially announced his intention to sign an Executive Order to place a moratorium on executions in California. CACJ congratulates the Governor for his courage, and thanks all CACJ members who have been working toward this moment for too long.

Here is CACJ's official statement:

"CACJ applauds Governor Newsom for his courageous and insightful action in calling for a moratorium on executions in California. Our state leads the nation in the number of those condemned to death. Nearly a quarter of all persons on death row in the U.S. are California prisoners awaiting their execution at the hands of the State. The process takes decades amidst a broken and costly system which disproportionately imposes the death penalty upon the poor and persons of color, too many of whom are later exonerated. Virtually every civilized country in the world has abolished the use of death as a means of punishment for crime. As our enlightened Governor has shown with this action, it is time for California to recognize that the death penalty is ineffective, barabaric, and immoral, and it has no place in our civilized society. There are too many stories of individuals locked up in our prisons only to be exonerated years or decades later. Our capital punishment system is broken beyond repair. CACJ will continue to advocate for the full repeal of the death penalty. "

March 13, 2019

The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ), a statewide association of criminal defense attorneys in private practice and public defender offices, issues a statement against President Trump's policy to separate and incarcerate children:

"CACJ is appalled that the President of the United States of America has singularly initiated a so-called "zero tolerance" policy that has resulted in the mass separation and incarceration of children as young as five. This policy is unnecessary and inhumane. The President's abhorrent policy undermines the fundamental principles of human rights and America's democratic principles."

Read the Press Release here

June 20, 2018

Pro-Trump Television Ad Tries to Turn Americans Against Latinos

The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) issues the following statement regarding the recent ad issued by the Trump Campaign :

Over the years political campaigns have explored the depths of racial hatred simply to bolster the election results of a particular candidate. Spending millions of dollars on television ads to cultivate a generalized fear against a particular race/ethnicity is abhorrent and intolerable. The fact that such race-baiting is conducted to help a politician without any regard for the damage it does to the individual members of the targeted community is a disgrace and is itself a heinous act.

This past weekend’s ad by the Trump reelection committee is yet another extreme example of racially charged messaging. It ascribes the act of a single individual to an entire population. If you look like him, you too are a threat to the safety of those around you. Imagine if every American had to bear the responsibility and blame for all the crimes committed by everyone who lives in your neighborhood simply because you share the same zip code. Trump’s re-election ad is just as ludicrous and dangerous, especially in light of the ongoing racially-tinged rhetoric we have heard from Trump himself. The ad is also an attack on the criminal justice system by suggesting that every time an individual is on trial, his/her entire community may be found guilty too.

There is no place in American politics, or America, for such racially charged attacks on communities of color, attacks that place the blame for one person’s actions at the feet of others. The talents and accomplishment of immigrants is central to the growth and greatness of America. We must move past the outdated strategy to turn us against our neighbors simply because of their racial/ethnic background.

The ad also continues the Trump strategy to reduce complex public policy into racially charged soundbites designed to play on the deepest fears of Americans. He is willing to govern from a political picture book that relies on oversimplified taglines which confirm his one-dimensional, razor-thin understanding of complex issues. America deserves better than this.

CACJ condemns this ad and calls for all of those who are as outraged as we are to join us in condemning this outrageous appeal to the worst instincts of those who it reaches.

January 24, 2018

Forfeiture Law & Luis v. U.S.

SACRAMENTO – Today, after several years of vigorous litigation in a series of cases that have been contested all the way to the United States Supreme Court, the Sixth Amendment protection of the right to counsel, the right retain counsel, and the right to counsel of choice, has been re-emphasized in the face of the Government's repeated efforts to use forfeiture laws to undermine it. In Luis v. United States___U.S.___ (March 30, 2016), the USSC reversed the Eleventh Circuit and found that the Government's restraint, through the forfeitures laws, of untainted assets intended to be used to mount a defense is unconstitutional. And the Court did so with language that provides reinforcement for the right to counsel that recognizes the current problems with underfunding of the indigent defense function. A number of criminal defense organizations have been involved in these litigations, including CACJ and NACDL. A number of lawyers contributed to the briefing including Courtney Linn and a team from Orrick, and John Philipsborn, CACJ's amicus committee chair.

Over the last 5 years, CACJ has joined with other criminal defense lawyer organizations in contesting the Government's broad approach to the use of forfeiture laws to affect the ability of individuals to retain counsel of choice, and to conduct a privately funded defense where possible. In 2014, Chief Justice Roberts mentioned CACJ's briefing attacking the degradation of the Sixth Amendment in the dissent that he filed in Kaley v. United States 571 U.S.___(2014). Given the aggressive position that has been taken by the U.S. Justice Department in trying to restrict the resources available to individuals to funds their defense, the criminal defense and civil liberties communities were concerned to stem the tide, and achieve recognition for the right of individuals to defend themselves without Government interference. Criminal defense lawyers will be interested in this outcome, and in the phrasing of the ruling.

March 30, 2016

Assault on Counsel in Court

SACRAMENTO – California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) believes that the public courthouse is a sacred place where prosecutors and defense attorneys should be free to practice their respective professions with honor and zeal in the pursuit of justice. In the sanctity of the courthouse, no person should ever be intimidated or silenced by the threat of physical aggression, particularly by one who represents the government.

We call for no rush to judgment. This is why we remain troubled by the statements from the President of the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, which represents both the involved DA investigator and the sheriffs, immediately following the incident and thereafter. It should be of concern to every fair-minded citizen that the president of the union responsible for this investigation incredibly suggests that Attorney Crawford was happy to have been beaten and disfigured as “a lawyer in search of a pay day." Such comments are disgraceful, reflects poorly on the very honorable members of the sheriff’s department and the district attorney’s office, and all those who work toward justice.

Given that Attorney Crawford recently exposed the very DA's office where Dillon Alley served as an investigator for failing to disclose important facts in a murder case; and given that the injuries to Mr. Crawford were severe and not self-inflicted; and because this occurred in the courthouse by the District Attorney’s own investigator who appears to have had no colorable authority to do so; we are likewise concerned over the failure of the DA himself to denounce such violence, if any, by his staff, especially in this context.

It is precisely this type of “circling the wagons,” lack of transparency, and lack of clear leadership on behalf of the people of Orange County that those who value justice rightly criticize.

CACJ, on the front-lines in the battle for equal justice, will not stand by in silence. CACJ will be issuing a public records request in connection with the evidence in this case, including any video.

We renew our call to have nothing less than a thorough, independent investigation. And we renew our call to the District Attorney to take to ensure both a climate of respect for all those who work toward justice, and a commitment to ensuring it.

March 15, 2016

Maintaining the Status Quo on Brady Violations is not a Sufficient Deterrent to Prevent a Growing National "Epidemic" of Prosecutorial Misconduct

SACRAMENTO – The California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a statewide association of criminal defense attorneys, is disappointed with Governor Jerry Brown's decision to veto Assembly Bill 885.

AB 885, CACJ sponsored bill, would have allowed a court, at its discretion, to read a jury instruction when a prosecutor intentionally or knowingly withheld evidence that may have prove the innocence of a defendant.

In Governor Brown's veto statement, he states that "prosectuorial misconduct should never be tolerated." We agree wholeheartedly. Governor Brown also writes, "under current law, judges have an array of remedies at their disposal if discovery violation comes to light during trial."

CACJ cannot sit back and rely on the status quo. It is clear that many judges do not regularly use whatever remedies the Governor referred to and these remedies are insufficient deterrents. We know prosecutors continue to strategically withhold evidence from the defense because Brady violations persist and innocent individuals are being wrongfully imprisoned in California. Unfortunately, prosecutors face little, if any, consequences.

Prosecutorial misconduct can happen to anyone. The possibility of one more person being wrongfully convicted, such as Obie Anthony, should have tipped the scales in favor of this moderate measure. Mr. Anthony was wrongfully convicted of murder and attempted robbery in 1995. Mr. Anthony was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and spent 17 years in prison.

CACJ will continue fighting to protect the innocent and ensure justice is served.

September 29, 2014

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