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Why Take Action?
From this page you can find opportunities to influence legislation and political actions. CACJ is a voice in the fight for social justice – a spokesperson for the accused and their attorneys. In light of the current political climate, it is vital that criminal defense attorneys organize and harness our power. CACJ speaks up and fights for justice - we are not afraid to challenge local, county, state or national leaders. Our power is magnified when it is supported by your individual voice.
Each year our lobbyist and political director, Ignacio Hernandez, analyzes and summarizes bills in the legislature on “Public Safety”, i.e. criminal justice issues. The legislative committee, made up of volunteer members, works to propose favorable legislation and to identify priority bills for support or opposition. CACJ members can also suggest legislation or legislative action to the committee. The committee sends letters of support or opposition on over 100 bills each year, and members often appear in Sacramento to voice our position at Public Safety Committee hearings.
When there is a critical vote scheduled it will be posted here as a call to action, with a description of the issue, the proposed action, and the CACJ position. It may be a call for a letter to a legislator, or a phone call to their office to express support or opposition. Our power and influence increases in direct proportion to the number of members who join these actions.
"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 Past President 2018
CACJ is committed to providing the criminal defense bar with a much-needed voice on legislative matters. Without the tireless efforts of our CACJ lobbyist, Ignacio Hernandez, and his staff at Hernandez Strategy Group, CACJ would not be able to accomplish these momentous tasks. Ignacio Hernandez provides continuous and aggressive representation before the California legislature on issues of importance to the criminal defense bar. Please contact our Legislative Committee with any questions.
For the status of a bill, please visit http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/
Our new website has a searchable brief bank which should have great value to our members. But we need motions and P&As submitted by members to build this resource. If all of us contribute a little we will end up with a world-class library of criminal law motions and authorities.
Please take a little time to identify two motions you have done where you stated your position well and supported it with careful research. (It doesn’t matter whether you won or lost the motion!) Then go to cacj.org, sign in, drop down the “Resources” menu and click on “Brief bank.” Enter the bank (blue bar), find the topic heading that best fits your motion, and click on the title. Just below the title area you will see the link to “Add Post.” Click on that and you will have the submission form open.
You can attach your file with the “choose file” feature and then explain what it is in the comment box below. Once the content is there you should also ‘tag’ the file with an appropriate descriptor by clicking on ‘Chooser’ to pick from existing tags, or add a new one of your own. Best practice is to replace proper names – especially client’s – but if the brief was filed with a court it is a public record. “Doe” replacements are not absolutely required.
Submissions go through a review before going ‘live’ so don’t be upset if it takes a while before you see your post.
A production team with The Intellectual Property Corporation is working on a documentary series for A&E network following the stories of individuals who were sentenced to LWOP as juveniles and who are now, following the landmark Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana Supreme Court decisions, hoping for a chance at a reduced sentence. In California we also have the CACJ-supported legislation that provides an avenue for resentencing after a minimum of 15 years served. (Penal Code §1170(d)(2)(A)(i).) The editorial goal for the documentaries is to increase public awareness of evolving legal standards, and show the human issues underlying the cases, which are never clear cut. You can find episodes of the first season here.
The show is titled “Kids Behind Bars: Life or Parole.” They are looking for cases with a resentencing hearing set Between January 1 and May 31, 2020. If you have such a case, you should contact Natalie Doerr (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let her know you were referred by CACJ. If your case should be selected please let CACJ know, too. Our Board of Governors approved this message to members, and encourages participation.
NACDL is planning to file a brief as amicus curiae in Pereida v. Barr, which the Supreme Court will hear this term. Pereida deals with the immigration consequences when a noncitizen’s record of conviction is ambiguous—that is, where the judgment of conviction, plea agreement, or other record does not make it clear whether the noncitizen was convicted under a specific subsection that counts as a crime of moral turpitude or one that does not. (As you are likely aware, similar issues arise in other contexts, such as with the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA)).
To that end, they are trying to collect affidavits from defense attorneys around the country that attest to local recordkeeping policies and practices that make it difficult, if not impossible, for noncitizens to acquire the records they need to prove they are not barred from applying for relief from removal. For example, some jurisdictions destroy records after only a few years, some do not record plea colloquies, and many do not require that a plea agreement or record of conviction specify the subsection of conviction. Additionally, even where records are kept, noncitizens in detention might not be able to access them because the local clerk requires them to come in person.
If you would consider submitting an affidavit attesting to local policies and practices—especially those pertaining to misdemeanor convictions— and If you might be able to submit such an affidavit by January 15, please email: