Welcome to the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Website (MTACDL). We are an affiliate of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), a nationwide organization of 10,000 dedicated criminal defense attorneys. The Montana Association was formed in 1997 to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crimes; to foster the integrity, independence and expertise of those who represent persons accused of crimes; and to promote the proper and fair administration of justice. We do this by providing educational programs at our annual seminar held each March at the Chico Hot Springs resort; through the exchange of information and ideas in our brief bank and on our private mailing list; and by simply being there for one another to discuss a case, celebrate a victory, or console one another in defeat.
Defending those accused of crimes is a difficult calling, whether you are a full time public defender, a court appointed attorney, a private practitioner, or a tribal court advocate. The actions you must take on behalf of your client and your ethical obligations to your client will often not be understood or supported by the general public.
One cannot do this work without being asked some version of the question: “How can you defend those people?” I can only answer: “How can you suggest that we don’t.” It is in the forum of the criminal case that the most fundamental values of our Federal and State Constitutions are put into practice. The rights to trial by jury, to remain silent, to be represented by an attorney, to due process of law are all about fairness. They are what distinguish our country from others and make us a free people.
We must do our job aggressively, effectively, and ethically to prevent the conviction and punishment of innocent persons and to protect every citizen’s constitutional right to be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We must do our job well to ensure that law enforcement also does its job honestly, fairly, and with integrity. The bottom line is that we defend everyone’s constitutional rights in the context of the criminal defendant.
I hope that you find our website helpful. To find a lawyer in your area visit the “Find a Lawyer” section on the website. If you are an attorney interested in joining MTACDL click the “Join Us” link and fill out and send the application with your membership fee.
--Wendy Holton, President - MTACDL - 2010-11