Professional Development Division

Co-Executive Directors:

Nina Marino,  Ann Macy

Academics Committee

Co-Chairs: Ion Meyn, India Thusi

The Committee’s mission is to strengthen the Section’s service to academics working in the field of criminal justice and to enhance the Section’s ability to draw on relevant empirical studies and other scholarship in its development of policy, programs, publications and other work. Toward these ends, the Committee will identify scholarship that may be relevant to the Section’s current work and work with other committees to develop new Section initiatives, programs and policy based on current academic scholarship; identify how the Section and its committees can broaden their contributions to the work of academics; encourage broader academic involvement in the Section’s work; and develop writings identifying academic work of potential interest and utility to the Section and its members.

Continuing Legal Education Board

Co-Chairs Nina Marino, Kevin Napper

Coordinating body for the Section's production of National Institute programs, Section-sponsored continuing legal education programs at the ABA Annual and Midyear Meetings as well as the Section's Fall and Spring Council meetings. Coordinates those programs that are cosponsored by the Section and other criminal justice related organizations.

Section Committees organize the Continuing Legal Education programs sponsored by the Criminal Justice Section. These include programs offered during the ABA Annual and Midyear Meetings, National Institutes, stand-alone conferences and those held at the Fall and Spring Criminal Justice Section Council Meetings. To propose a program, please contact us at crimjustice@americanbar.org. 

Goals for 2020-2021:

  1. To increase young lawyer interest in programming and published materials in an effort to increase membership
  2. To better enforce diversity on all program panels
  3. To create programming which is of interest to counsel who deal with issues in the college environment (i.e representing students charged with sexual assault, drug charges, theft, and other offenses which may impact academic eligibility)
  4. To create and support programming that financially benefits the section
  5. To foster greater relationships with law schools for programming events
  6. To maintain and regularly update a program master calendaring system
  7. To explore program recording as a revenue stream
  8. To better market the available programming for sale at conferences

View CJS Events page.

Defense Function Committee

Co-Chairs: Stan German, Joshua Dratel, Marissel Descalzo

Considers contemporary criminal justice issues of interest to the private criminal defense bar. Examines issues of concern to public defenders in handling both capital and non-capital cases, including funding and caseload management and ethical dilemmas.

Broad Directions:

A. Crisis in Indigent Defense:

Fiscal Challenges and Need for Independence. Fifty years after Gideon, indigent defense, both public defenders and appointed counsel, confront funding crises. We do not support criminal defense, and the results ripple through the system. This can and must change. In addition to the need for adequate funding, the issue of independence must be addressed. Too often the mission of criminal defense is compromised by the subordinating of control to legislative bodies or agencies whose interests are opposed to a vigorous fair defense. The case of the federal defenders and CJA counsel can be a bellwether.

B. Women and Diversity.

The face and color of the legal profession is changing. The defense function must make every effort to reflect and incorporate the change in the legal profession. Women are increasingly over half of law school graduates. They must be brought into the fold, and provided with the support, and opportunities that see them achieve leadership roles in the criminal defense field and in local, state and national bars. Diversity encompasses race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, culture and also age. The criminal defense function must do a better job of ensuring diversity.

C. Technology.

We are living in a digital revolution. The computer has forever changed society, and the practice of law. The criminal defense function must not trail advances in use of technology, either in trial preparation, trial advocacy, investigation, discovery, and sentencing. In today’s world, ensuring that the criminal defense function has equal access to technology that can level the playing field during both trial preparation and trial is a critical part of protecting the rights of the criminally accused.

Issues of interest and potential programming are:

Analysis of risk assessment tools in criminal justice context (bail, sentencing, release, supervision)

Implementation of reforms recommended in the Cardone Report (federal CJA Panel representation)

Standby Counsel Performance Task Force

Sentencing “Integrity” Review Units roll out to local DA offices (and enabling legislation) and combine with Resolution

Right to counsel at first appearance in all criminal proceedings when liberty is at stake

Police credibility databases & access

Lawyer wellness

Ethics, Gideon & Professionalism Committee

Co-Chairs: Lara Bazelon, Ron Paschal

The Committee considers ethical and professionalism issues in the various Criminal Justice Section membership practice settings paying particular attention to right to counsel issues.

The goals of the Ethics Committee are to build on its previous work writing resolutions and crafting policies to help to ensure that judges, prosecutors, and criminal defense attorneys aspire to uphold the highest ethical standards in their practice.  In her new role as Chair of the San Francisco District Attorney's Innocence Commission, Professor Bazelon and her five colleagues will reexamine credible claims of wrongful conviction and make written findings of fact and conclusions of law to the District Attorney.  These factual findings and legal conclusions will be entitled to great weight.  In addition, the Commission is committed to drafting policy recommendations designed to address official misconduct and ineffective assistance of counsel, which are often the underlying causes of these terrible miscarriages of justice

Judicial Function Committee

Co-Chairs: Clifford Brown, Imani Drew

The Committee analyzes criminal justice issues of interest to judges., acts as the voice for judges within the Criminal Justice Section, and provides technical know-how and identifies best practices for Judges.

In light of the mission of the Judicial Function Committee’s support of effective, accessible, fair and impartial justice, this committee shall strive to create content for the Judiciary to enhance our ability to meet these objectives. We intend to do this through enriching learning opportunities via webinar’s, CLE’s and written articles submitted by committee members for publication in CJS newsletters. Further, we plan to create spaces and opportunities for law student’s and young lawyers to interact with the Judiciary. 

Past Chairs Function Committee

Chair: Kim T. Parker

The Past Chairs Committee's goal is to use the collective experience and wisdom of the former Chairs to develop programs to enhance criminal reform for the county’s Criminal Justice System.

This Committee supports the Chair in accomplishing her goals during the year, works with the Long Range Planning Committee in identifying and evaluating new endeavors for the Section to consider as it accomplishes its mission and goals.

Prosecution Function Committee

Co-Chairs: Michael Moore, Melba Pearson

Studies issues of interest to prosecutors and develops policy. Reviews matters related to prosecutors that are under consideration by the American Bar Association and its CriminalJustice Section to ensure that the prosecutor’s viewpoint is reflected. Provides technical advice and identifies best practices for prosecutors.

Goals for 2020-2021:

·         Providing advice and partnership, with an eye to the prosecution point of view, in the area of criminal justice reform. This includes resolutions, providing speakers for panels, and other types of collaboration.

·         Set an example for guidance and goals in the area of criminal justice reform. 

·         Continue to develop and promote CLE programs needed in the area of prosecution

·         Promote “Implicit Bias Training for Prosecutors Toolkit” to ensure prosecutors are receiving this important training

·         Participate in the drafting of a Pre-Trial Manual for Prosecutor Offices

·         Participate in an update of the Victim Rights Guidelines through a Standards Task Force

·         Draft resolutions relevant to the area of prosecution

·         Review all relevant resolutions brought before Council and take a position and give input as necessary. 

·         Continue to be involved in the Annual Prescription for Criminal Justice Forensics Seminar held in June each year. 

·         Actively work to increase participation by members of the committee at meetings and during the year.  

Minutes of  the Prosecution Function Committee Meeting: Nov. 18, 2020  

Science Technology and Forensics Committee

Co-Chairs Sarah Chu, Barry Scheck

The Science Technology and Forensics Committee's goals are to:

  • Discuss ethical and just frameworks for implementing emerging technologies;
  • Examine issues and develop policy & projects relating to developments in science and technology that affect the practice of law, as well as the general role of science and technology in the criminal justice system.