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Berthiaume v. Smith Summary

The National Association for Public Defense (“NAPD”), in conjunction with the ACLU of Florida and Lambda Legal, recently played an instrumental role as amici curiae in protecting and advancing the rights of the LGBT community.
The National Association for Public Defense (“NAPD”), in conjunction with the ACLU of Florida and Lambda Legal, recently played an instrumental role as amici curiae in protecting and advancing the rights of the LGBT community.

In Berthiaume v. Smith, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that jury members may be questioned during voir dire regarding latent bias predicated on sexual orientation.   Relying on its decision in United States v. Bates and the United States Supreme Court's decision in Rosales-Lopez v. United States, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that, where matters of sexual orientation are “inextricably bound up” with the facts of the case, LGBT litigants are entitled to constitutional protections against jury bias.  

In so holding, Eleventh Circuit found that “the risk that latent, undiscovered prejudices may have influenced the jury's verdict” was “substantial.” Furthermore, the Court emphasized that “general inquiries regarding the jurors' ability to be impartial,” coupled with the trial court's instruction “that jurors not be prejudiced against witnesses based on the witnesses' backgrounds” failed to sufficiently apply the Rosales-Lopez and Bates standards. For these reasons, the Eleventh Circuit vacated the trial court's decision a remanded the case for a new trial.  In response to the decision, D'Arcy Kemnitz, the executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association, stated that “LGBT individuals facing trial have the same right to jury of their peers, free from prejudice, as every other American.”

The Eleventh Circuit's decision and reasoning reflects the arguments presented by the NAPD in its amicus brief, which emphasized the critical role of voir dire in preserving the constitutional right of stigmatized and marginalized groups to a fair and impartial jury trial. As D'Arcy Kemnitz explained, “[n]o one should ever face a jury filled with potential animus, and it is time that members of the judiciary recognize sexual orientation and gender identity as legitimate classes in need of protection.” In the Eleventh Circuit, that time has arrived.

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July 1, 2018: General Registration opens for the “WE THE DEFENDERS” TRAINING CONFERENCE,  November 26-29, 2018, Indianapolis, IN

Due to overwhelming demand, NAPD will again offer this comprehensive Investigator and Social Worker/Sentencing Advocate training experience! The program will include one track for Investigators and a separate track for Social Worker/Sentencing Advocates.  Hear from nationally recognized experts who will share their knowledge on a wide range of topics relevant to the work you do each and every day.  Network with other criminal defense practitioners from around the country and find your tribe. Registration closes Septemebr 3.
This one of a kind conference is developed through surveys of the registrants.   You have a say in what sessions are offered and will have multiple options during the conference.
Click here to watch as the schedule develops based on your suggestions.
Click here to see the faculty list. 
Click here to register for the Investigator Conference Track.
Click here to register for the Social Worker/Sentencing Advocate Conference Track.
Click here to make a hotel reservation at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown.

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January 23, 2018: In response to US Attorney General Jeff Session's reversal of prior policy on the imposition of fines and fees for criminal defendants, NAPD submitted the following letter on behalf of the public defender community. You can read the letter HERE
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January 17, 2018: The 2018 NAPD Investigators Conference and 2018 Social Workers & Sentencing Advocates Institute (March 26-29, 2018 in Denver, CO) are now at full capacity and closed for registration. A wait list is being developed.
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November 28, 2017: NAPD has uploaded videos of the presentations from the 2017 NAPD Workloads Conference in St. Louis (held November 17-18). Members can access these valuable presentations on MyGideon by logging into their NAPD account.
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