Sen. Kamala Harris’ Bipartisan Push For Bail Reform

From the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers:

Washington, DC (July 20, 2017) – Today, Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rand Paul (R-KY) jointly introduced the “Pretrial Integrity and Safety Act of 2017.” This legislation would help bring about more just pretrial release determinations and represents a clear recognition of the vital role of counsel at the pretrial stage. If enacted, it would authorize a $10 million grant to incentivize and encourage states to end the practice of money bail. Principles for obtaining grants under the bill include replacing money bail with individualized, pretrial guidelines that favor release as well as appointment of counsel at the earliest possible stage of pretrial detention, approaches strongly supported by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL). The bill would also encourage states to institute a system of data collection and reporting that includes steps to ensure that risk assessment tools do not result in racial, ethnic, gender, or class disparities.

“NACDL applauds the bipartisan introduction of this important legislation,” said NACDL President Barry J. Pollack. “Long-standing NACDL policy supports the right of every person accused of a crime to argue for pretrial release, the right to have counsel to make that argument, and a strong presumption in favor of pretrial release. Our jails should not be filled with people detained before trial. Since every person is innocent until proven guilty, pretrial detention should be the exception, not the rule. Nor should pre-trial release be conditioned on the ability to post money bonds. Conditioning release on the payment of bail results in people being incarcerated solely because they lack financial means. Pretrial detention disproportionately affects poor and minority defendants. It is encouraging that there is bipartisan support for a bill that recognizes the importance of addressing the critical issues raised by unnecessary pretrial detention.”

Read the rest of the article here.

West Virginia takes the lead in addressing the issue of under employment and other collateral consequences of prior convictions

Starting on July 7, 2017, West Virginians with qualifying, non-violent, non-sexual felony convictions can petition to have their convictions reduced to misdemeanors once ten years have passed from the expiration of their sentence. Petitioners must not have been convicted of any other crimes since their conviction, must be able to state specific reasons why they are seeking the reduction (employment, licensing, etc.), and must be able to show the actions they have taken toward personal rehabilitation. The Circuit Court ultimately has discretion to grant or deny the Petition depending on whether it finds that the reduction is consistent with the public welfare.

WV Supreme Court reviews compensation for a wrongfully convicted man after 26 years in the State Penitentiary.

By Courtland Milloy from the Washington Post:

As an inmate in West Virginia’s prison system, Jimmie C. Gardner had to fight to keep from being killed by other inmates, and at the same time work to prove his innocence. He succeeded, but only after spending 26 years of a 110-year sentence locked up before being released last year. Now he’s fighting another tough battle — trying to win compensation for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

Read more of this incredible journey at the WashingtonPost.com.

 

War on Drug Users is Back

From Sari Horwitz of the Washington Post:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reviewing policy changes set in place by the Obama administration that eliminated harsh punishments for low-level drug crimes and could direct federal prosecutors to again charge drug offenders with crimes carrying the most severe penalties, according to U.S. officials.

The change, if adopted, would overturn a memo by then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. that instructed prosecutors to avoid charging low-level defendants with drug offenses that would trigger severe mandatory minimum sentences. Only defendants who met certain criteria, such as not belonging to a large-scale drug trafficking organization, a gang or a cartel, qualified for the lesser charges under Holder’s instructions.

Read the full story on WashingtonPost.com.

Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions

Dear Friends,

48,000. That is the approximate number of collateral consequences – specific legal restrictions, generalized discriminated and the overall social stigma – returning citizens face. These collateral consequences can adversely impact access to housing, employment, occupational licensing, education, public benefits and voting.

Last month NACDL partnered with Prison Fellowship to celebrate April 2017 as Second Chance Month. NACDL believes that individuals with an arrest or conviction should be afforded a second chance to become productive members of society without the stigma of collateral consequences that limit their potential. The U.S. Senate recently passed S. Res. 129 declaring April 2017 as Second Chance Month.

Currently pending in Congress are two opportunities to ease the collateral consequences of a conviction – the Fair Chance Act (H.R. 1905/S. 842) and the REDEEM Act (H.R. 1906/S. 827). The Fair Chance Act would “ban the box” at the federal level. The REDEEM Act, or the Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act, would create a mechanism for adults and youth to have their records expunged or sealed.

Help us support second chances by taking action and contacting your Member of Congress today and ask them to support the Fair Chance Act and the REDEEM Act! Click ‘Take Action’ below.

Thank you for making your voice heard!

Take Action – Ban the Box

Take Action – REDEEM Act

What is a law partnership?

What is a law partnership? And why is the MillsMcDermott team an added benefit to the outcome of your case? Shawn McDermott and founding partner Kevin Mills have a strong personal friendship as well as a professional working relationship based upon mutual respect, strong work ethic, and a shared passion for helping people. We both were mentored in the practice of criminal law by the late William “Bill” Moffitt – a nationally acclaimed criminal defense attorney and past president of the NACDL.

Together, we add value to your case by brainstorming, collaborating and bringing a seamless team approach to every case. In a big firm, your case may be assigned to a single attorney and in one person firms, you will always have just one attorney. At our firm, you will get the benefit of our shared passion and the synergy of a team. Bill Moffitt’s credo was “confusion to the enemy” and at MillsMcDermott we believe that injustice is the enemy of us all.

Mills McDermott bids farewell to Judicial Circuit Judge David H. Sanders

Mills McDermott bids farewell to Judicial Circuit Judge David H. Sanders and honors his 24 years of service.

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — With two weeks remaining in the last of his three terms on the state trial court bench, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge David H. Sanders bid farewell Friday at a retirement reception in the historic Jefferson County Courthouse.

See the full article here.

West Virginia Supreme Court Overturned Berkeley County Circuit Court Judge Ruling

The West Virginia Supreme Court has overturned the decision of a Berkeley County circuit court judge remanding a homicide case back for a habeas corpus hearing. The case brief was written by partner Shawn McDermott and argued before the Supreme Court in early October by Kevin Mills.

Kevin Mills has appeared in the Supreme Court frequently in the Supreme Court over his 30 yer career. Contact Mills McDermott today to receive a free initial consultation for your case.

West Virginia Supreme Court Grants Appeal

West Virginia Supreme Court grants appeal argued by senior partner Kevin D. Mills in the October term of court. Mills and partner Shawn McDermott had written the brief requesting a remand of a murder conviction in a Berkley county homicide case. The Supreme Court granted the appeal on November 13th 2016.

Mills McDermott has argued over two dozen cases before appellate courts, and has over 30 years experience working with local and Supreme courts. Contact us today for a free initial consultation today.

Jefferson County Magistrate Renders Verdict of Not Guilty

A Jefferson County magistrate has rendered a verdict OF NOT GUILTY on all charges against Mills McDermott client MP. Chris Barnhart was the lead attorney and Laura Lee Mills was the legal assistant handling this case for the Mills McDermott criminal defense law firm.

The case had been brought over a year ago and alleged serious injuries and could have resulted in a year in the eastern regional jail for the firms client. MP commented “that no one in the system had believed in my innocence – and by going to trial I was able to finally achieve vindication through the dedicated services and hard work of the trial team at Mills McDermott”.

Chris Barnhart added “Sometimes the only way to achieve the best results for client is to take a case to trial – and we are gratified that MP was found not guilty.”