When new criminal-defense lawyers ask me about joining criminal-defense lawyers’ associations, I advise them to join their local criminal-defense lawyers’ associations (unless “local” means Austin, Texas) first, and then the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In Texas, at least, the state organization is a distant third.
The national association, NACDL, has a new president: Arkansas criminal-defense lawyer and blawger John Wesley Hall (Law of Criminal Defense). John’s From the President column (PDF) in this month’s Champion (the organization’s magazine, one of the great benefits of NACDL membership) should be required reading. A snippet:
The government seeks to take our clients’ liberty, to house them in a cage or a concrete box, and sometimes even take their lives. It is more convenient for government to dispense with some procedural niceties, as it is wont to do, but a trial and cirminal justice were never meant to be convenient.
The criminal courts are where the Constitution is tested and protected by people like us — every day, in every case. That is why I became a criminal-defense lawyer.
Download the column. Read it. Then get out a credit card and join NACDL. (Unless you’re a prosecutor, in which case you’ll have to quit your job enforcing those petty legislature-made laws so that you can join John, me and 10,000 other NACDL members in enforcing the Constitution.)