NCDD Summer Session Presented at the Harvard Law School
I spent last week in Cambridge, Massachusetts, attending the Summer Session of the National College for DUI Defense, presented at the Harvard Law School. I have taught at the National College for many years, and I have the honor to be a Regent of the College. But it was a real thrill to step up to the lectern at Austin Hall, the most famous law classroom in the world, and give a presentation on cross-examination of the blood analyst in a DUI case.
The introduction to my presentation concerned brain anatomy, neuropsychology, and the way that our basic instinct controls our decisions. I tried to tie all of that to the jurors’ decision-making, and cross-examination themes. The presentation was 60 minutes, and it really needed a good 90 minutes. I could have, however, budgeted my time a bit more carefully. So, I hope to give the full presentation when I am an instructor for the State Public Defender, in October.
I've been trying criminal and DUI cases for 33 years; and, I've seen a dramatic change in the profession. Twenty years ago, the NCDD did not exist. At that time, lawyers who practiced DUI defense were seen as junior members of the criminal defense bar, second to the lawyers who did “serious” cases. Let me tell you, I did my share of “serious” cases, including homicides; and none were more difficult than a DUI.
As DUI lawyers, we were isolated from each other, with few resources, almost no ability to pool our efforts, nor to learn from each other. The NCDD changed all of that. Because of the NCDD, DUI defense is now recognized by the American Bar Association as a separate and legitimate specialty. Because of the efforts of the NCDD and the wonderful lawyers who make up its membership, DUI defense lawyers are now seen as elite members of the bar, with unmatched trial skills, legal knowledge, and knowledge of forensic science. The recognition that we have received over the last decade is largely due to the collegiality, unity, and national communication that we established with the NCDD. I can say without hesitation that the NCDD board certification program is the most rigorous legal specialty certification program in the country.
All of that may be seen as bragging about an organization that I have the honor to serve. I get that. So, let me emphasize that although the organization is great, the best part of attending the NCDD is networking with the most dedicated group of professionals that I have ever seen. This organization is made up of the most seasoned veterans, like Lawrence Taylor of Los Angeles, to new law school graduates, who have yet to try a case. In every instance, we seek to learn from, and to inspire each other. There are regional differences in the way that lawyers practice law. Lawyers from Texas are known for their zealous advocacy, while lawyers from Alabama are known for their courtesy and charm. I could go on about every state. The great part of the NCDD experience is meeting with and learning from all of these great lawyers, picking up the best from all of their styles.
If you want to learn more about the NCDD, go to www.NCDD.com. The next NCDD session is in Las Vegas, in conjunction with the meeting of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. I’ll miss that one, as I will be attending the Gerry Spence Trial lawyers College.