Jan 17, 2020 Lobbying for criminal law reform- Fairfax criminal defense lawyer joins 100
Lobbying for criminal law reform- Fairfax criminal defense lawyer joins 100
Lobbying for criminal justice reform in Virginia- Fairfax criminal defense lawyer’s firsthand account
Lobbying to add, stop and change legislation can be a challenging, painstaking and lengthy experience. As a Fairfax criminal defense lawyer, today I witnessed receptiveness to criminal justice reform by Virginia legislators — at least Democrats –when I today joined around one hundred other criminal defense lawyers from around the commonwealth in this climate of better prospects than ever for advancing a civil liberties-beneficial agenda in criminal justice.
This lobbying effort was organized by Justice Forward Virginia, the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. I deeply thank fellow criminal defense lawyers Brad Haywood, Shawn Stout, Bryan Kennedy, and the other Virginia lawyers working tirelessly to reverse Virginia’s heavily unfriendly climate for criminal defendants.
Pushing for criminal justice reform after a remarkable November 2019 election day
In this climate of Democrats — including many favorably inclined to criminal justice reform — taking control of the Virginia legislature and reformers sweeping three Northern Virginia chief prosecutor elections, today I for the first time entered the Pocahontas legislative office building and Virginia statehouse for lobbying legislators to seize the moment to end hide-the-ball discovery rules, to tell potential jurors the sentencing ranges faced by the defendant, to permit sentencing jurors to know sentencing guidelines, and to recommend probation periods and suspended sentence periods, and more.
A receptive House of Delegates floor
After an early morning of lobbying, we headed to the House gallery, where Fairfax County / Arlington-area Delegate Alfonso H. Lopez introduced us. A lot more Democrats seemed to applaud us than Republicans. Not all Democrats are criminal defense friendly, but this particular Democratic shift in Richmond will help criminal defendant tremendously.
Former public defender lawyer Jennifer Carroll Foy is among the House Democrats leading the way for criminal justice reform. Having been elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017 when it was still controlled by the GOP, Delegate Foy recently told me that of her agenda items is liberalizing marijuana laws. Jennifer Foy is among those friendly to criminal defense lawyers’ lobbying efforts.
The irony of the wrongheaded Lee-Jackson day’s freeing up our time to lobby today
Ironically, our court schedules were freed to be here today for lobbying, due to the courts closing every [Robert E.] Lee-[Stonewall] Jackson day, which hopefully will be on this year’s legislative chopping block.
A chief prosecutor joins our lobbying effort
My eyes bulged out of my head when I saw that new chief Loudoun County prosecutor/ former criminal defense lawyer Buta Biberaj — who kept her office open on Lee-Jackson day — had joined us. Gone are the days when the Virginia Association of Commonwealths Attorneys acted in lockstep.
Pictured above is Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, the first woman and Jewish person to serve in that position.
Fairfax criminal lawyer defense lawyer Jonathan L. Katz is a highly-rated attorney pursuing your best defense against felony, misdemeanor, DUI, drug and sex offense prosecutions. To discuss your case with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100, to schedule a confidential consultation.