Criminal Defense Attorney John Berry spoke to University’s Students Innocence Project in March about the latest concerns defense lawyers are facing statewide. Berry, President of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association (NCDAA), talked about the importance of continuing education and training as well as legislative issues from a criminal defense lawyer’s courtroom perspective. “NCDAA provides education and training to attorneys throughout the state.” The organization also monitors legislation that may negatively impact the Nebraska Criminal Justice System. Berry told the group, “When NCDAA feels that a law needs to be changed or that a proposed law could have harmful unintended consequences, the Association provides attorneys to testify at legislative hearings and explain the practical application of the proposed legislation.”
Berry also discussed the NCDAA Spring Seminar held in Omaha. The focus of the seminar was the use of expert testimony in trial. This included mental health professionals, a medical doctor who provided information about reading and analyzing medical records and a cell tower evidence expert. Kelly Steenbach of the Douglas County Public Defender’s Office also provided a presentation on “Shot Spotter” which supposedly locates the origin of gun-shot sounds and can be used in the evidentiary process in court.
Berry explained that criminal defense is difficult work. “The government has many more resources at its disposal than the citizen defendant. Fortunately the defendant has powerful constitutional rights including the right to effective legal counsel, the right to confront accusers, and the right to a trial by jury.”
Berry indicated that while criminal defense is challenging work, the opportunity to defend the constitutional rights of an individual is a great honor. “Many people believe that their lives are over after they have been arrested and charged.… They fear they will lose their jobs, families, and futures. Criminal defense attorneys provide hope, guidance, and resolution.”