The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is an organization with more than 47,000 members; either directly or through affiliates. It was formed in 1958 with the intent to “Ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime. Foster the integrity, independence and expertise of the criminal defense profession. Promote the proper and fair administration of criminal justice.”
It is a forum for members to discuss law and its application, to share updates on technologies, techniques and theories that promote criminal defense advocacy; provide meetings, seminars and publications for same; and allow the public to access the website to find a lawyer in their time of need.
Lawyers that join NACDL (or one of its state affiliates) have taken their oath of office a step further, going ‘above and beyond’ what is required, to the ideal put forth in the Constitution and Bill of Rights of the United States, that ALL people, the indigent as well as the wealthy deserve due process, which includes the lawyer working to the utmost of his or her capabilities; as well as adhering to these credos even in the face of changes to laws and ‘streamlining procedures’ that threaten to erode these Constitutional guarantees.
Among the beliefs that lawyers of this association adhere to is that victims and witnesses should be treated with compassion, rather than being put on trial themselves; a right to privacy in person, property and communication; a right to counsel of their own choosing- without it being used against them; and a policy of sentencing punishment in keeping with the crime, not mandatory requirements that are unaffected by circumstance or intent.
They advocate prevention and true rehabilitation rather than an incarceration and release approach that generally only causes a downward spiral of habitual (and worse) offenses. To promote this within the organization, there are annual awards given to recognize those members that have excelled even at this higher level of dedication.
As an open forum, all levels of government- national, state or local, can access or present information that provides additional insights or interpretations of past rulings; scientific communities working in forensics or mental and biological health can present advancements in technology or new data on research into various conditions and diseases and how they may affect or interact with a person’s judgment or capabilities at any given time.
This allows the organization to disseminate as widely and quickly as possible new information when it becomes available.
Within the NACDL website itself, there is an area for members only, where they can privately discuss questions, problems, or new information among their peers so that a consensus can be reached.
By working to uphold the Constitutional view of law, the NACDL hopes to return the country to the principals on which it was founded, and not allow fear, greed, or apathy to erode our system of criminal justice.