National Criminal Defense association elects attorney Aric Cramer to board

WASHINGTON, D.C. — St. George attorney Aric Cramer was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers at the association’s 58th annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, on July 26.

Cramer joined NACDL and the Utah Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in 1998, according to a news release by the NACDL. He became a life member of NACDL in 2000 and was elected to the board of directors of UACDL the same year.

The position affords me a chance to speak to national issues from a Utah perspective,” Cramer said in an email. “NACDL has lobbyists on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, who take the policies of NACDL to Congress and the President.  NACDL is currently putting together a policy statement on the use of police body camera that will have national significance.  It also allows me to put Utah’s dismal failures on indigent defense in the national arena.  Utah is only one of two states that pay zero dollars to indigent defense funding and abdicate that Constitutional mandate to the counties.  Since the Koch brothers have given NACDL a multi million dollar grant to sue states that are not funding indigent defense we have a better chance of being part of that discussion than if no one from Utah was on the NACDL Board.”

Since 2012, Cramer has served as chairman of NACDL’s council of affiliates, and he also co-chairs the Indigent Defense Committee and serves on several other committees.

“Being a director won’t enhance my influence (you can’t enhance what does not exist), but it will enhance my effectiveness as a practicing attorney,” Cramer said. “I have a chance to meet with and develop friendships with nationally recognized attorneys and allow me to learn advanced negotiation and litigation skills from the country’s very best attorneys.”

Cramer is a graduate of North Carolina Central University School of Law, where he received his law degree in 1988. He migrated west to Utah and was admitted to the Utah State Bar in 1989 and simultaneously admitted to the District of Utah, United States Federal Court.

Shortly thereafter, Cramer was admitted to the bar of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1990. In 2008, he was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

After practicing as an associate in several firms specializing in family law and bankruptcy, he took a sabbatical to obtain advanced training and was awarded a master’s degree in taxation from Denver University College of Law in 1994.

Cramer then re-entered the practice as a solo general practitioner, the NACDL release said, eventually growing his practice into a focus on only criminal law. In 2004, he became a certified death penalty contract attorney with the Capital Indigent Defense Fund of Utah and has been involved in multiple capital cases since that time.

He also became certified to handle capital case appellate work in 2005, and has done state habeas petition work on capital cases.

In 2010, Cramer was the first attorney outside of the Salt Lake City and Provo metropolitan area to be elected as president of UACDL, and during his year as president grew the organization by 16 percent. He has represented clients in over 100 jury trials and has a large number of not-guilty verdicts in one of the most conservative states in America.

Although he said the problems with the criminal justice system are more than a short comment would allow, Cramer said the major problems facing residents of Southern Utah are the vast over-criminalization of minor problems – like small traffic offenses, and small simple possession of marijuana cases, vastly underfunded and overworked public defenders and a need to focus on solutions for addictions that are not just long jail sentences and steep fines to the courts.

“This new position will give me an opportunity to see what has worked in other jurisdictions nationally,” Cramer said, “and hopefully bring those solutions here, as well as to bring national attention to abuses that exist in Utah.”

Cramer is also a fourth-degree black belt certified by the International Taekwon-Do Federation since 1998, is a master mason having served as master of Bonneville Lodge No. 31  of Free & Accepted Masons of Utah in 2000, and founded the Scott M. Matheson Sr. Chapter, Charter 388 of the American Inns of Courts in 2004, serving as its counselor from 2006-07.

About the NACDL

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL’s approximately 10,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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