Who We Are
- To defend the rights secured by law of persons accused of the commission of a criminal offense;
- To educate and promote research in the field of criminal defense law and the related areas;
- To instruct and train attorneys through lectures, seminars and publications for the purpose of developing and improving their capabilities; to promote the advancement of knowledge of the law as it relates to the protection of the rights of persons accused of criminal conduct;
- To foster, maintain and encourage the integrity, independence and expertise of criminal defense lawyers through the presentation of accredited Continuing Legal Education programs;
- To educate the public as to the role of the criminal defense lawyer in the justice system, as it relates to the protection of the Bill of Rights and individual liberties;
- To provide periodic meetings for the exchange of information and research regarding the administration of criminal justice.
Message from the President
Members of the OACDL,
When our calling comes up in conversation, outsiders pose one of two inevitable questions: Why do you defend criminals? How can you defend criminals? Why is simple; How is a bit more complicated.
Why? How about the preservation of our collective freedom? Our presence so critical that our very existence is enshrined within the Constitution. We know what the general citizenry takes for granted—left unchecked, law enforcement would suffer little consternation in trampling our rights. Enjoy freedom? Thank a criminal defense lawyer.
For those who cannot fathom an officer intentionally doing wrong, they should praise us: no academy can possibly train an officer as well as a pointed cross examination. We are the last line of quality control for police. Any well-intentioned officer will leave court better for the experience: perhaps one case lost on that pesky technicality that is the Constitution, but hundreds of future investigations will be properly conducted. The Ohio Associations of Chiefs of Police should give us medals.
There’s also that small matter of keeping innocent people out of a cage. Yet our impact extends way beyond exonerating the innocent: assisting in recovery, preventing unjust sentences, keeping families together, and the simple act of putting a defendant’s mind at ease as they navigate a foreign and daunting process are services we provide regularly. Few professions allow for such a profound and significant impact on others’ lives.
Finally, competition is fun. In what other profession does the job compel you to stand up to and fight the government? To stand in lockstep with your client against the full weight of the government and say “no”? Defense work is tailor made for those of us who grew up stubborn and rebellious.
The How is a bit trickier. Many of the alluring qualities discussed above are inexorably linked to the angst and insecurity inherent in bearing the weight of your client’s hopes and freedom. Losses are gutting, internalized, and never forgotten—we always speculate as to what we could have done differently, even in the face of extraordinarily difficult cases. Wins bring more relief than joy, and are quickly cast aside as we eye the next battle. We stand alone in combat against a host of prosecutors, a legion of officers, and, sometimes, the bench. Our job is tough.
This is why OACDL exists—a group of sisters and brothers sharing their accumulated knowledge and experience for the collective good. Have a unique question you haven’t seen before? Throw it on the Listserv to a collective mind of hundreds of colleagues. Appearing in an unfamiliar court and unsure of procedure? No sweat—we’ve got people there. Prosecutors or judges exceeding their authority? Strikeforce. Updates on constantly evolving law and forensic standards? Illuminating CLEs. Need a template for a constitutional challenge? You’re covered. The list goes on.
And perhaps most importantly, who can understand our plight better than us? Who appreciates that when a new client sincerely proclaims, “I’m innocent; this will be an easy case,” you just picked up one of the toughest cases on your docket? Who else can understand a post-trial adrenaline dump so significant that you break down regardless of whether you win or lose? Sharing war stories, making some room for joy after a win, picking up after a loss, and simply having someone to understand. That is us.
Why? When April’s off to court and our twins ask where she’s off to, I get to say Momma is going to help people—and really mean it. How? With a little help from my friends.
Very truly yours,