Indigent Defense Bill

** Download a Copy of the Proposed Bill **

Message from Don Colee - Indigent Defense Bill
"To all GBCDLA members :

The Indigent Defense Commission bill which we saw two years ago is about to raise its ugly head. The membership meeting Thursday is to discuss the bill and our options .

As a board member of our group and Secretary of the ACDLA and a member of the ACDLA legislative committe, I want to be sure we are aware of the situation and can take the action that is not only best for us but most importantly our clients . If you are not a member of GBCDLA, please still attend and join . We can only be successful with strength in numbers and unity."

Please make plans to attend our membership meeting on February 21 at 5pm at the Redmont (2101 5th Ave. N).

Click on the link below to download a flyer.

** Download a Flyer **

1/24/08 Email from John Lentine, Re: Death Penalty Guidelines


I have attached copies of the new;Considerations and Recommendations for Appointing Counsel in Capital Cases; as well as the Certification form that will have to be completed by all lawyers who wished to be considered for either first or second chair. All completed forms should be returned to Judge Alfred Bahakel. The Court has set up a oversight committee of the Presiding Circuit and District Judges and one lawyer rep. for the initial committee. This oversight committee will compile and verify all the certification forms and then verify each lawyer as either first or second chair for capital appointments. Those lawyers; names will then be disseminated to all the criminal division judges in Birmingham for consideration in future capital appointments. Please note the training requirements are that each lawyer complete 12 hours of cle training every 2 years. The upcoming death penalty cle sponsored by ACDLA this Friday and Saturday would satisfy that requirement. These considerations and recommendations are just that and are not mandatory on any judge to follow, however, I do suggest that any one wishing to be appointed to capital cases fill out the form and return it to Judge Alfred Bahakel's court as soon as possible because all the circuit and district judges in the criminal division have signed the resolution to implement this system.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.


Considerations and Recommendations for Appointment to Capital Cases

Attorney Certification Forms

5/2/07: Judge Chambliss has been reappointed for 4 more years to be the Presiding Judge of Birmingham's Municipal Court. His bailiff, Bobbie Wallace, is trying to organize a party to mark this occasion. The party is set to be held on June 15, 2007, but they do not have a location yet.

Memo from Jdg Chambliss' Bailiff

4/6/07: Minutes from our Board Meeting on 4.5.07

Click below to view a copy of the minutes from our latest board meeting.

Click to Download a Copy of the Minutes

2/6: Announcement from Don Colee.

As of course everyone is aware, the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled in our favor on the overhead issue. Obviously, it has been a long two years for all of us who do court appointed work. We will all receive checks reimbursing us for the overhead, which has been paid on those cases since February of 2005. With this money coming to us all, I would like to strongly suggest that each of us consider making a contribution to the Alabama Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Legislative Fund.

As Past Vice President for our area, and current Treasurer, I have been involved in the ACDLA work as it related to the overhead issue and attorney compensation. When the Attorney General first issued their opinion that overhead should not be paid, ACDLA immediately contacted the Attorney General’s Office and made its best effort lobbying the Attorney General and the Governor to rescind its opinion. When this failed, the Board met to determine the best strategy to deal with this issue. At that time, the Legislature was about to go into Special Session.

It was decided that a Legislative rather than a Judicial course of action would be best. As a result, ACDLA submitted legislation clarifying the overhead issue. Quite frankly, the powers that be: the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, etc… did not think we had any chance of success. However, through hard work by many members and our lobbyist, we were able to get our bill out of Committee and passed on the Senate Floor. This is an extremely difficult to do during a Special Session. Unfortunately, the Governor’s Office became fearful and worked hard at lobbying their supporters to keep the bill from coming to vote.

Once our legislative efforts failed, the Board immediately contemplated filing lawsuits. We asked members not to file the lawsuits prior to that time as we felt that the legislative efforts were our best long-term solution. Unbeknownst to the Board at that time a lawsuit had already been filed in Montgomery County by George Douglas, a non-ACDLA member. The ACDLA assisted by filing an amicus brief with the court. As everyone knows, the Judge in Montgomery ruled in our favor. ACDLA made every effort to try to get neither side to appeal this case. Unfortunately, the Plaintiffs filed an appeal and the State of Alabama cross-appealed.

When the matter went to the Alabama Supreme Court, ACDLA filed an amicus brief and participated in oral arguments. In addition, ACDLA lobbied heavily with the Alabama Bar Association requesting that they also file amicus at all times.

The ACDLA has been actively involved in matters affecting us. In the last legislative session, a bill was introduced to form an indigent defense commission. This bill was detrimental to our clients and to those of us practicing criminal law. The ACDLA lobbied heavily against this bill and as a result, it was voted out of committee.

As an ACDLA Board member and a criminal defense lawyer I believe it is important that we be as active as possible in Montgomery before the legislature. The ACDLA needs to be involved in other legislative matters (not just those affecting us financially, but those that affect our clients). Our goals this year are to look closely at bills to improve the indigent defense system, to submit legislation to allow Expungement of records, and to make every effort to get a moratorium on the death penalty passed by the Legislature.

Please understand that all of these efforts take time AND require a full time lobbyist to assist. Many members of the ACDLA have spent countless hours working on these legislative matters in Montgomery. However, the only way we can be a force in Montgomery is to have a Full-Time lobbyist to work for us and direct us in these matters. Unfortunately, they cost money.

It is for this reason that I am asking all Birmingham lawyers to make a contribution to the ACDLA Legislative Fund (especially those who will receive payment for overhead). Quite frankly, I hope everyone will also join the ACDLA as there are tremendous benefits that you can receive, including a listserv, which provides opportunities to discuss any problems you are having with your cases with numerous lawyers all over the State.

Hopefully everyone will join the ACDLA AND make a contribution to the Legislative Fund. If we are not active in Montgomery, we are likely to lose everything we have gained through the courts. PLEASE MAKE THIS CONTRIBUTION!!

For more information, Contact Don Colee at: (205) 592-4332

Email Don Colee

** Download ACDLA Membership / Legislative Contribution Form **

2/1: ACDLA Meets with Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb.

January 31, 2007


ACDLA leadership met with newly elected Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb in Montgomery today to discuss the pending 2007 Legislative Session and the new direction of AOC.
ACDLA President Melinda Morgan Austin of Florence, Legislative Chairman Bill Blanchard of Montgomery, Past President Jim Roberts of Tuscaloosa, ACDLA Lobbyist Amy Herring and Executive Director Ann Cooper all gathered at the Judicial Building in Montgomery for the informal meeting. Judge Cobb greeted the group warmly and a productive discussion of legislative agendas commenced.

Judge Cobb was quick to point out early in the discussions that ACDLA was the FIRST Association to come meet with her. She seemed quite pleased and willing to call on the Association as much as possible for feedback on her legislative agenda. ACDLA leadership expressed their concerns about fair compensation for future appointed work, the need to adopt the ABA Standards for Capital Case Representation and a proposed Expungement bill.

During the hour-long conversation, Judge Cobb emphasized her focus will be different from previous AOC directives. Her major goals during the coming Regular Session will be a revamping of the juvenile justice system, addressing judicial elections and as she explained it, "budget, budget, budget."

She has invited ACDLA to participate in future legislative discussions with her new team at AOC.

For questions about this meeting, contact:

Ann Cooper or Bill Blanchard - Legislative Chairman
(334)272-0064 (334) 269-9691

1/16/07: Death Penalty Seminar, Jan. 26th and 27th.

Announcement from Richard Jaffe:

As many of you know each year on behalf of ACDLA John Mays and I plan the topics and select the speakers for our annual Death Penalty Seminar. This year I convinced Reverend Joseph P. Lowery to be the keynote. The conference will be held at the Embassy Suites on Jan. 26 and 27. At 85 he continues to be one of the best, and most influential public speakers in the country, and internationally on human rights. Also we have an incredible array of speakers to present on highly relevant and timely topics, which should really support and enhance our representation of capital defendants.

So far very few from Jefferson County have pre-registered. I would respectfully urge the members of our organization to sign up and attend. It really should prove very useful and does give us all 12 hours for CLE and an hour of Ethics by Professor penny White who will speak on the the recent Crawford decision and it's effect on Capital Sentencing. W have a Nationally recognized Jury selection Expert to present, and topics such as mental retardation topics that reflect each aspect of a Capital Trial.

In addition Chris Adams will give a demo on presenting a closing argument.

I hope to see all or most of you there.Thanks for your support! Richard

Click this Link to be taken to our CLE Page

11/16/06 Minutes from our Board Meeting on 11.14.06

Click below to view a copy of the minutes from our latest board meeting.

Click to Download a Copy of the Minutes

10/11/06 Announcements

Dear Fellow Criminal Defense Lawyers:

It is time once again to renew your membership with the Greater Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (GBCDLA). Our fiscal year is from September to August. Attached is information about the different types of membership options and information about the organization.


The GBCDLA serves the following purposes:

Ensuring that lawyers who practice criminal law have an opportunity to voice their common concerns regarding vital issues that affect the individual and constitutional rights of all citizens accused of any state, local, or federal offense.

Ensuring that lawyers practicing criminal law have an opportunity to voice their concerns about substantive and procedural issues that affect the area of criminal law.

Promoting by lecture, seminars, and publications the advancement of the knowledge of law as it relates to the criminal defense practice.

Improving the image of those lawyers who champion the rights of individuals by educating the public regarding the services provided by criminal defense lawyers.

Promoting the constant improvement of the criminal justice system by striving for the highest standards of integrity, expertise and independence in the area of criminal defense law.

GBCDLA Members Receive

GBCDLA's own publications including monthly emails of The Sentinel, which updates policy and procedure in the Jefferson County Criminal Courts, and highlights recent Alabama and Federal decisions, and current activities of the GBCDLA.

Educational seminars featuring recognized experts on various practical aspects of criminal defense work at reasonable registration rates.

An Association by which criminal defense lawyers can formulate and express their position on vital issues that affect the practice of criminal law within the various courts and tribunals in the Greater Birmingham area.

2006 & 2007 Officers

Brett M. Bloomston 212-9700

President (elect)
Erskine Mathis 252-1111

Amber L. Ladner 251-6666

David Scott 836-7979

Michael Hanle 930-9717

Board Members :
Andrew Coleman 879-9977

Don Colee 592-4332

John Robbins 252-1388

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of the officers or board members.


Brett M. Bloomston


** Click to be taken to our "Membership" page. Here you will find current membership forms that you can fill out and mail to us. **

9/5/06 Announcements


Elections for the new 2006-2007 Officers were held on August 31, 2006. The results are:

Brett Bloomston will be our new President
Erskine Mathis: President - Elect
Amber Ladner: Vice President
Michael P. Hanle: Treasurer
David Scott: Secretary

Congratulations to all of these fine candidates!

A party has been scheduled for September 21, 2006 to officially swear in the new board for the 2006-2007 year and to Honor our Past Presidents at this occaision. We will post a list of the past presidents on this website shortly.

Please make plans to attend the party at Zydaco's on September 21, 2006 between 5 and 6:30 p.m.

8/17/06 Announcements

The board had a meeting today to discuss upcoming elections and current issues of importance to the group.

It was decided to hold elections for next years board of directors on August 31, 2006 at 11:30 a.m. This will be a general membership meeting with the express purpose of nominating and election next years board of directors. The meeting and elections will take place in Judge Virginia Vinson's courtroom located on the 7th floor of the Criminal Justice Center. Please make arrangements to attend and vote often. If interested in running for a position on the board or to nominate someone for a position, please contact a member of the current board with that information. You will also have the ability to make a nomination at the general meeting. All positions are available with the exception of President which is being filled by our current President-Elect, Brett Bloomston.

Following the election of next years board of directors, there will be a party to mark the changing of the guard. The party will be located at Zydaco's and will take place on September 21, 2006 between 5:00 and 6:30 p.m. Please make plans on attending.

A committee is being formed to consider standards for Capital Defense representation in Jefferson County. If you have some input or would like to be present during meetings, please contact Kay Laumer

Michael P. Hanle, Secretary

Greater Birmingham Criminal Defense Lawyers Association