FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: I have a legal problem. Can the Foundation help me?
A: The Foundation does not represent individuals and does not participate in cases at the trial level. Its legal program is focused entirely on the introduction of scholarly amicus curiae ("friend of the court") briefs in criminal cases on appeal or habeas corpus before the United States Supreme Court, a state supreme court, or a state or federal court of appeal, and occasionally in civil cases which impact the criminal justice system.
Q: How does the Foundation choose the cases it joins?
A: In roughly half the cases it joins, the Foundation's legal staff identifies and evaluates cases accepted for review before the nation's highest courts. In the remaining half, the Foundation's participation is invited by the Attorney General from the state where the original trial was conducted. The criteria for selection are 1) the importance of the case to law enforcement nationally, 2) the need for Foundation participation in the case, and 3) the availability of resources (time and staff) to introduce a quality brief.
Q: How does the Foundation determine that it has helped a court reach a decision?
A: In the cases it joins, the Foundation focuses its argument on specific issues it has determined should be resolved. When the court's decision squarely addresses those issues and follows the Foundation's reasoning to resolve them, the decision is counted as a victory. In such cases the court typically includes research and argument unique to the Foundation's brief in the decision. On rare occasions, the court will identify the Foundation by name in its decision.
When a decision rejects the Foundation's reasoning it is counted as a loss.
A decision which does not decide the issues argued by the Foundation is counted as a draw.
Q: Who pays for the Foundation?
A: The Foundation is supported by contributions from individuals, businesses, and philanthropies who share an interest in improving the effectiveness of the criminal justice system. The Foundation does not ask for or receive financial support from any government entity.
Q: Are contributions to the Foundation tax-deductible?
A: Yes. The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation is a federally qualified tax-exempt organization as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible to the full extent provided by law. The Foundation also accepts tax-deductible contributions of stock and gifts in wills and trusts.