Learn how you can help ensure that the principle of due process endures this crisis
Due Process Institute is a bipartisan nonprofit that works to honor, preserve, and restore principles of fairness in the criminal legal system.
Importantly, procedural due process concerns transcend liberal/conservative labels and therefore we focus on achievable results based on core principles and values that are shared by all Americans.
Guided by a bipartisan Board of Directors, and supported by bipartisan staff, we create and support achievable solutions for challenging criminal legal policy concerns through advocacy, litigation, and education.
We are lawyers and lobbyists for the Constitution, working with an incredibly diverse coalition of lawmakers, public policy organizations, defenders, business leaders, the formerly incarcerated and their families, and the public to help bring more fairness to the criminal legal system.
Res, non verba. Deeds, not words.
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October 27, 2020--Due Process Institute joined a letter to Representative Anna Eshoo who has recently pushed for clarity around how federal agencies are using surveillance programs to collect information on countless Americans. She has specifically requested the Acting Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to investigate how federal agencies are using their surveillance powers to target Americans based on their race, ethnicity, and religion.
October 16, 2020--Due Process Institute partnered with the Innocence Project and Prof. Brandon Garrett of Duke Law School's Wilson Center for Science and Justice to urge the Committee responsible for drafting the Federal Rules of Evidence to turn their attention to the critical issue of ensuring scientific integrity in court proceedings.
In a letter supported by a diverse array of academic institutions, legal advocates, and policy organizations, we urged the Committee to consider amending Rule 702 because courts frequently fail to exclude unreliable or insufficiently tested forensic techniques or to rein in exaggerated and misleading claims to experts. These failures are particularly consequential in court proceedings in which life and liberty are at stake.
We thank our many allies for the support, advocacy, and expertise they provided in this effort: Academy for Justice at the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law; American Civil Liberties Union; Black Public Defender Association; The Bronx Defenders; Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University; Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences; Computational Justice Lab at Claremont Graduate University; Fair and Just Prosecution; Federal Public and Community Defenders; Forensic Justice Project; Innocence Project; The Legal Aid Society; NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.; Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia; Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School; Reason Foundation; Southern Center for Human Rights; and Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke University School of Law.
October 9, 2020--The bipartisan Kenneth P. Thompson Begin Again Act was introduced in the House with the support of a diversion coalition supporting the bill. The Begin Again Act expands the current federal expungement process to include any individual convicted of a first-time, simple possession charge. This bill is a commonsense reform that will ensure these individuals can acquire a true second chance and aligns with a growing body of research showing that expungement has positive benefits for our economy and public safety.
October 5, 2020--Due Process Institute joined Institute for Justice, Mackinac Center for Public Policy, and DKT Liberty Project to file a brief with the Sixth Circuit urging it to reconsider a case considering how due process applies when a municipality seizes property through civil forfeiture. The defendants in this case, Wayne County and the City of Lincoln Park, have a proven history of seizing vehicles from thousands of people and retaining them for six month or longer without initiating civil forfeiture proceedings. We believe due process requires a hearing in cases of long-term vehicle seizures where prosecutors do not promptly apply for forfeiture of the property with local courts.
September 23, 2020--The United States House of Representatives passed the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act earlier this week. The bill has now been sent to the Senate. Due Process Institute has led a coalition effort to urge leaders in the Senate to allow prompt consideration of this important bill.
We would like to thank Americans for Prosperity, #cut50, Fair and Just Prosecution, Faith & Freedom Coalition, FAMM, Federal Public and Community Defenders, FreedomWorks, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers for joining us in this effort.
September 21, 2020--The United States House of Representatives passed the Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act, a bill that the Due Process Institute has been working to advance from the beginning. The bill will ensure that email communications between an individual in a federal prison and their attorney will receive the full protections of attorney-client privilege alongside all other forms of communication. It will now be sent to the Senate where we urge that chamber's leadership to promptly allow its consideration on the Senate floor.
We would like to thank Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Doug Collins for their leadership on this issue and our many bipartisan coalitions partners in this effort.
"On behalf of everyone at Due Process Institute and Clause 40 Foundation, I want to express our profound sadness at the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Before she ascended to the High Court, she was a trailblazing civil rights lawyer and appellate court judge. After her elevation to the Supremes, Justice Ginsburg became the leading light of the liberal wing of the Court and an icon to generations of progressive lawyers and activists.
The coming days and weeks before the presidential election will undoubtedly fuel partisan rancor to extreme levels as the nomination fight looms. But right now, in this moment, members of both parties should join the American people in mourning the loss of such a remarkable woman and jurist.
Requiescat in pace, Justice Ginsburg.”
September 14, 2020--Due Process Institute and a bipartisan group of leaders in Congress have been fighting for months to secure reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that establish reasonable safeguards without hindering our national security. Key provisions of FISA have now lacked Congressional authorization for six months and major concerns have been raised about the widespread misuse of these authorities. Together with allies from across the political spectrum, we sent a letter to House leadership urging them to not utilize an unconventional legislative vehicle for the extension of these authorities that would bar adequate consideration of these controversial and important issues.
September 9, 2020--Today Senators Lee (R-UT), Durbin (D-IL), and Coons (D-DE) introduced The Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act. We are proud to have served as a significant partner in that effort.
If passed, the bill will help fix a serious, structural problem in our federal criminal justice system. Current law presumes that all federal drug offenders should be held in jail while awaiting trial—that is, before they are convicted of anything. Today’s bill eliminates this presumption for federal nonviolent drug offenders—the second largest group of people in the federal system—restoring the presumption of innocence and abolishing this unfair and un-American presumption of incarceration.
If passed, the bill will help to eliminate a leading cause of America’s overincarceration, since the current presumption of detention compels most people facing drug charges to sit in jail as they await their trial, forcing them to consider pleading guilty in order to try to obtain a speedier release. Its burdens fall disproportionately on people of color. Research also now shows that this law does little to protect public safety; all it does is impose a great cost on taxpayers to incarcerate people who should be free while awaiting the resolution of their case. And it is especially harmful during a pandemic, when COVID-19 is ravaging our jails and prisons, exposing detainees, prison staff, and their families to a potentially deadly disease before their guilt or innocence has even been determined.
Like the other bipartisan reform bills we have spearheaded, The Smarter Pretrial Detention for Drug Charges Act presents a simple, effective solution to important failures in our system. We worked hard to make this a reality and to ensure bipartisan support by Congressional leaders and an incredibly diverse array of endorsing organizations. Thanks to our many allies who continuously help prove that #BipartisanWorks: #cut50, a program of Dream Corps, American Civil Liberties Union, American Conservative Union, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Black Public Defender Association, Drug Policy Alliance, Fair Trials, FAMM, Federal Public and Community Defenders, FreedomWorks, Innocence Project, Justice Action Network, Justice Roundtable, Leadership Conference, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, Prison Fellowship, R Street Institute, Right on Crime, The Sentencing Project, and Tzedek Association.
August 26, 2020--Due Process Institute joined a coalition of legislative leaders, policy organizations, and legal professionals in calling upon the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons to release more individuals from state prison who are serving unjust sentences, have substantiated claims that were wrongly convicted, and are deserving of grace given their ability to achieve restoration in prison. We urge the Board to utilize its clemency power to its full extent during this time of uncertainty in ways that will not harm public safety.
On January 11, 2020, Due Process Institute co-hosted a community event, "Pretrial Justice: Examining the Need for Pretrial & Criminal Discovery Reform in Virginia" at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA, along with NACDL, VACDL, Americans for Prosperity, and Legal Aid Justice Center. The event presented multiple panels on important issues affecting the criminal justice system in the Commonwealth. The final panel, on effective citizen advocacy, was moderated by Joe Luppino-Esposito and featured Congressman Bobby Scott (VA) and Virginia Delegate Steve Heretick.
Due Process Institute has been actively working in Virginia to improve criminal discovery. Joe has weighed in on the importance of including sanctions for prosecutors who fail in their discovery duty, and has also suggested reform solutions that would put Virginia in line with its neighbor North Carolina.
In 40 states, as well as under federal law, a jury can find you not guilty of a criminal charge but a judge can still sentence you to jail for many years based on the facts underlying the acquitted charge. This is known as acquitted conduct sentencing, and Due Process Institute is leading the movement to end the practice. As part of the effort, Director, Rule of Law Initiatives Joe Luppino-Esposito delivered a presentation on the constitutional flaws with acquitted conduct sentencing to the Criminal Justice Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council States and Nation Policy Summit in December 2019.