AG Eric Holder Addresses Criminal Defense Bar

Attorney General Eric Holder was the featured speaker yesterday at the annual meeting of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) in Philadelphia. The primary topic: Federal sentencing. He also addressed indigent defense, the role of defense lawyers, and the need to act in good faith in discovery matters.

Every day, in courtrooms from coast to coast, criminal defense attorneys take on cases that are fraught with difficulty and often controversy – because you understand that, for our criminal justice system to function at all, every accused individual must have effective representation. And every defendant’s right to due process must be guaranteed.

The full text of his remarks is here.

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    Nice sentiment (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sat Aug 02, 2014 at 08:04:58 AM EST
    If only he ACTED like that's what he believed. Holder, on balance, is a piece of nothing.

    I was in that ballroom for Holder's speech Friday (5.00 / 5) (#3)
    by Peter G on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 05:29:08 PM EST
    The large audience of criminal defense lawyers -- public and private, younger and older, hotshot and not-so, from all over the U.S. -- was polite, but hardly enthusiastic.  I would say there was a lot of justifiable skepticism in the room.

    Are you familiar with former prosecutor, (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by NYShooter on Mon Aug 04, 2014 at 10:50:56 AM EST
    turned defense lawyer, Sydney Powell, and, her new book, "Licensed to Lie?"

    I caught her giving a talk on one of those cable channels, apparently from her book tour. From the little bit that I heard the book is a definite buy.

    Basically, she was a prosecutor, and had an epiphany when she witnessed some of the horrific abuses of power coming from the Justice Dept. And, just a few of the examples she gave were enough to stand the hair on this skeptic's head straight up.

    Just unbelievable!


    Not familiar with it. Her credentials (none / 0) (#6)
    by Peter G on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 08:26:11 PM EST
    seem excellent.  But the book is self-published, and the endorsements are all from right-wing sources.  Any insight into that?

    No, no special insights, but, (none / 0) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 09:47:46 PM EST
    when I used the term, "epiphany," it seemed to me that it was genuine.

    Several things about her kept me watching rather than continuing my channel surfing. Among them were her obvious command of the law, and, her ability to speak in coherent, fluid sentences/paragraphs. She commanded a powerful aura that had me saying to myself, " thank God I'm not a defendant facing her in court."

    Another interesting thing about her was her, seemingly, sincere sense of astonishment (having been a prosecutor herself) at some of the prosecutorial abuses they employed vis-à-vis reluctant witnesses. You didn't need a law degree to grasp some of the bare-knuckled tactics prosecutors used to further their cases.

    I guess the thing that really grabbed me was that in telling her biographical background she obviously emitted the sense that she was a truly aggressive, no holds barred, Katy bar the door, prosecutor. And, for her to be so genuinely shocked at the Justice Department actions meant to me that they were so over-the-top, even for a skeptic, bordering on cynic, like me that it suggests buying, and, reading her book.

    I know you've spoken here about Federal overcharging abuses/tactics, but, to me, her examples placed them into another realm altogether.

    I'll let you know.    


    Seems Like He Was Addressing Issues... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Aug 04, 2014 at 11:48:05 AM EST
    ...coming from his own office, no ?  Or does the full text have something like:
    And every defendant's right to due process must be guaranteed, sans anyone at GITMO, anyone caught under the National Security blanket, or any foreigner the DEA decides is high level target.

    Very out of touch individual IMHO.


    What Holder said about the criminal defense bar (none / 0) (#2)
    by Green26 on Sun Aug 03, 2014 at 03:47:19 PM EST
    is absolutely true. Without strong criminal defense lawyers, including federal/state defenders and pro bono lawyers, the civil liberties of all of us would suffer and erode. This includes representation of the accused, as well as appeals of important criminal defense issues and Constitutional rights. I became aware of the important of criminal procedure rights, Constitutional rights, and criminal defense lawyers when I was fortunate to have one of the great criminal defense professors of the time (actually probably ever), Tony Amsterdam.

    Mandatory sentencing needs to be changed substantially or eliminated. Judges, who see the particular set of circumstances and defendant, should make sentencing decisions, subject to oversight by appeal. It would also be nice if, in some jurisdictions, some judges would get away from feeling the need to try to hang each defendant higher in certain criminal areas.

    Marijuana needs to be decriminalized at the federal level. Other drug laws need to be changed to fit the present day thinking and modern day world.

    It is a huge waste of money and resources to have so many people in prison for things that shouldn't be criminal and things that should not have such long sentences. This is a huge cost to our society, both financially and otherwise.

    No one wants to turn loose real criminals and threats to society. Modernizing our criminal laws, sentencing and system, would not be hard to do, subject to the politics and often ridiculous politics.