California Lawyers Association

Criminal Law

Updates and events from the Criminal Law Section

Want to meet criminal law practitioners from around California, hear how COVID-19 has affected people's practices, and swap war stories? Join the Criminal Law Section Executive Committee for a Virtual Happy Hour! Read more
“Tell me something your client did when no one was keeping score,” responded then-U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota to a query when I interviewed him late last year. I had asked him what an attorney can do when faced with representing a client who has committed a reprehensible offense with a lengthy criminal record. “I think well of people who act out of the goodness of their hearts,” he added. Read more
The Criminal Law Section Executive Committee is keenly aware of this pivotal moment in the history of our nation and realizes that systemic change, reconciliation, and racial healing is needed to form a more perfect union. We offer our sincere condolences to the family of George Floyd. But more than sincere condolences is needed to prevent further deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hands of law enforcement. Thus, we join the many diverse and powerful voices across our nation… Read more
Before rejoining the Zuckerman Spaeder LLP law firm in Washington, D.C., Judge Mehta worked for the highly acclaimed Public Defender Service in Washington, which was founded by Charles L. Ogletree, now a Harvard Law School professor. Asked what a lawyer can do at a sentencing hearing to make a difference if he’s already provided the court with a quality sentencing memorandum, Judge Mehta says, “Bring passion and candor to the case. Humanize your client. While I don’t know of any judge who takes the bench without an idea of what the sentence is going to be and the sentencing memorandum is vitally important, hearing the lawyer’s words at the hearing definitely can sway me. For example, show me that your client is not necessarily who he or she was at the time of the offense.” Read more
Due to the COVID-19 risk in our jails and prisons, every effort should be made to avoid incarceration and, for those in prison, get released. Here are some strategies that attorneys can use to help clients avoid, or at least delay, custody during the pandemic. Read more
U.S. District Judges Frederic Block of the Eastern District of New York and Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California in San Francisco are legendary sentencing judges. Read more
“What is best for the victim?” asked U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill. “What is best for the community? What is best for the defendant?” Read more
What can you do if faced with the government argument that a lesser sentence for your client would depreciate the seriousness of the offense and promote disrespect for the law? As one judge once told me, “Tell me something that your client did when no one was keeping score.” Read more
This program will focus on the ethical rules governing the conduct of criminal attorneys, both prosecutors and defense attorneys, and how to balance competing duties to clients, the criminal justice system, and the State Bar. Read more
In order to be an effective and ethical advocate for one’s client in the courtroom, an attorney should understand the basic rules of evidence and know how to use those rules to admit important pieces of evidence. In addition, the attorney should have a basic understanding of some of the ethical issues that arise during a trial. Read more

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