In 1997 a group of Montana attorneys got together to form the Montana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (MTACDL). We are an affiliate of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), a nationwide organization of 10,000 dedicated criminal defense attorneys. According to our founding documents, MTACDL was formed to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crimes, to foster the integrity, independence, and expertise of the criminal defense profession, and to promote the proper and fair administration of criminal justice. Our specific goals include:
- promoting study and research in the fields of criminal defense law and procedure, and constitutional law.
- disseminating by lecture, seminars, and publications such theories, technologies, and techniques that support or promote the field of criminal defense advocacy.
- sponsoring periodic meetings of the criminal defense bar.
- providing a forum for the exchange of information regarding the administration of criminal justice, and thereby to protect individual rights and improve the practice and procedures of criminal law.
- representing MTACDL before the legislative, executive, and judicial bodies which determine policy for the state and federal governments in a manner that promotes the mission of MTACDL and its objectives and purposes.
- preserving, protecting, and defending the adversary system of justice and the state and federal constitutions.
We believe that continued recognition and adherence to the rule of law by the Judicial, Legislative, and Executive branches of government is necessary to sustain the quality of the American system of justice.
That's the soapbox speech. So what do we actually do? Our primary focus is supporting our membership in their criminal defense practice here in Montana. We are an all volunteer organization, with no paid staff. We put on an annual two day CLE at Chico Hot Springs, bringing in some of the best speakers from around the nation and around the world to assist us in improving our trial skills, and keep us informed about national and international issues. We file amicus briefs with the state and federal courts in Montana on the request of our membership and at the request of the courts. We offer assistance on ethical questions for our members.
We maintain this website for the use of our membership. The website includes:
- a message board and a listserv where members can seek advice and assistance of other members.
- a brief bank where members can exchange briefs and motions.
- a feature that allows members to advertise their practice around the state.
- a calendar of events for members reminding of meetings, seminars, and upcoming issues of interest.
- a news section that we will regularly update with state, federal, and tribal cases of interest.
What can we do for you? If you've been practicing law for more than a week, then you know that criminal defense 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. We can help you improve your practice with practical answers to ethical questions, advice about legal strategy, and we will provide you with some of the best seminars in the nation to improve your trial skills. We offer support for you when the criminal justice system turns on your clients, or tries to turn on you. We hope you will consider joining with us. A strong criminal defense bar is an integral part of our criminal justice system.