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Since 1974, the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (GACDL) has been the most important organization for lawyers involved in the defense of the accused in Georgia. The largest member funded state-wide criminal defense organization in the country, GACDL is comprised of criminal defense lawyers, law school students, and full time criminal investigators who stand together in their commitment to safeguard the constitutional guarantees of fairness in the criminal justice process. GACDL makes its voice for fair and effective criminal justice heard in the courts, the legislature, and the community.

Our Mission Statement

To promote fairness and justice through member education, services and support, public outreach, and a commitment to quality representation for all. 

The Purposes and Objectives of GACDL

To provide an appropriate state organization representing those lawyers who are actively engaged in the defense of criminal cases... Read more here

Our History

GACDL was conceived on September 6, 1974 when William  W. "Bill" Daniel discussed the idea at a breakfast meeting with Rees Smith, Al Horn, Dick Rubin, Glen Zell, and Walter Henritze. At a second meeting on September 19th, a dues program was established, policies and objectives solidified, and Articles of Incorporation were drawn and subsequently filed with the Secretary of State on September 10th. At a third meeting on September 25th, an interim slate of officers and directors proudly declared themselves ready to guide the fledgling organization at its first seminar held in Atlanta on December 6th and 7th, 1974. It was such a success that they ran out of chairs and speaker materials. Click here to learn more. 

Position on Indigent Defense

Click here to read GACDL's position on indigent defense. 

Programs and Services

GACDL hosts at least four annual CLE seminars, as well as provides many other services to criminal defense lawyers. Click here to learn more. 

Sponsorship Opportunities

GACDL has many sponsorship opportunities. Contact Ophelia Attah for more information.  

Click here for contact information. 


  • To provide an appropriate state organization representing those lawyers who are actively engaged in the defense of criminal cases;
  • To resist proposed legislation or rules which would curtail such rights and to promote sound alternatives;
  • To promote educational activities to improve the skills and knowledge of lawyers engaged in the defense of criminal cases;
  • To improve the judicial system and to urge the selection and appointment to the bench of well-qualified and experienced lawyers;
  • To improve the correctional system and to seek more effective rehabilitation opportunities for those convicted of crimes;
  • To promote constant improvement in the administration of criminal justice



GACDL supports funding levels that are adequate to provide constitutionally required zealous representation for the accused.

GACDL supports ABA standards for attorney caseload sizes. GACDL strongly opposes any proposal to furlough public defenders.

Death penalty cases being unique to the practice of law, sufficient funding and sufficiently trained and experienced attorneys are essential; the funding as it currently stands is wholly inadequate.

All habeas petitioners serving sentences for serious violent felonies should have the advice of counsel.

GACDL opposes raising the threshold amounts for determinations of indigency. The newly proposed figures only consider one’s ability to afford the bare essentials of food and shelter, while failing to consider the financial ability to retain a lawyer. GACDL opposes changing the definition of “indigent” because it fails to adequately consider financial hardships such as court ordered child Support, medical bills and other legal obligations.

Removal of Counsel:

Removal of counsel in any criminal matters, absent cause, is a threat to the independence of the defense function and interferes with the ongoing attorney-client relationship. Continuity of counsel is paramount in death penalty cases.

Caseload Sizes:

GACDL supports ABA standards on attorney caseload sizes and strongly condemns the excessive caseloads carried by public defenders throughout the state.

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