Criminal Defense Group Launches Fourth Amendment Center

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which has long supported Fourth Amendment legal efforts, is creating a new framework for identifying cases that shape the amendment’s legal precedent with its new Fourth Amendment Center.

It seems that when constitutional amendments come up in public discussion, it’s usually the First Amendment or the Second Amendment.

But with a new initiative, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, is giving a major nod to the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable search and seizures. NACDL announced this week that it would launch a Fourth Amendment Center. The association, with the support of the MacArthur Foundation, the Foundation for Criminal Justice, and the Charles Koch Foundation, will build a resource that supports work related to the amendment while identifying important legal cases that might affect the law going forward. The move comes as the onslaught of the digital era changes the dynamic of privacy-related cases significantly.

“Safeguarding the fundamental values embraced by the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee to protect the individual from government searches and seizures has created new challenges for defense lawyers,”  NACDL stated in a news release.

In a statement, NACDL Executive Director Norman L. Reimer, who also serves as the executive director of the Foundation for Criminal Justice, said that the center was important because the Fourth Amendment’s reach is ultimately shaped not by the Constitution, but in the courtroom by a stream of new court cases.

“Those are the cases in which the uses of modern technologies will be pushed to the outer limit and beyond, and that is where the courts must establish the boundaries that ensure the survival of the Fourth Amendment in the modern age,” Reimer stated in the release. “But to do so, it will be up to a robust, fully-informed criminal defense bar to identify and effectively challenge government abuse. The NACDL Fourth Amendment Center will be an essential resource in that effort.”

The center will make available educational tools for criminal defense lawyers, resources to identify potential new cases, and a network of support in cases of litigation.

The move is the latest in NACDL’s long history of supporting Fourth Amendment cases, including a 2016 training session on the topic that brought to light the use of surveillance technology such as Stingray tracking devices.

(qingwa/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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