The DUI Defense Lawyers Association: A New Challenge to the NCDD

Jamison KoehlerDUI and Driving Offenses

I am clueless about the politics. But you know this has to be a really, really bad thing for the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD).

Justin McShane hinted that something was up at the most recent meeting of the NCDD in New Orleans when he announced that his presentation that day would be his last. At the time I could not imagine why this would be. After all, McShane has always represented the best that the NCDD has to offer.

Today McShane sent out a letter – via email – announcing the establishment of a DUI Defense Lawyers Association (DUIDLA).  According to this letter, DUIDLA is “a NEW non-profit organization that was recently incorporated and established to advance the cause of aggressive and effective DUI-DWI defense across America.”

Is this not the mission of the NCDD?

McShane continues:  “We believe that DUI-DWI defense trial practice needs to have an alternative training and idea-sharing organization that offers the members of the organization the right to periodically elect its leaders through a democratic vote.”

Ouch.  McShane may be one of the best DUI lawyers I have ever met but he is not too subtle. At least not in this letter. Maybe that is the point. An alternative training and idea-sharing organization”?  Alternative to what?  And apparently someone has had a problem with NCDD operations, decision-making, and leadership selection process:  The letter devotes all sorts of attention to organizational transparency, democratic elections, financial disclosure, and the absence of executive sessions on operational issues.

Finally, there is this:  “This organization is not intended to REPLACE the College.  Many DUIDLA members are remaining in both organizations.  Others are opting to join DUIDLA exclusively.  This will be a personal choice for each potential member of DUIDLA.”

So I email my friend and colleague Michael Bruckheim.  Clearly Bruckheim will have some insight.  Not for attribution, I tell him.  In other words, give me the dirt and I won’t attribute anything to you.

Bruckheim is an NCDD insider.   There were three D.C. lawyers at the meeting in New Orleans:  Dan Daly, Bruckheim and I.  Bruckheim attended an exclusive dinner.  Daly and I hung out at a happy hour with everyone else.

But Bruckheim is savvy.  He is also pretty cagey.  He doesn’t give anything away other than to tell me he has already joined the new organization.

So, although I have no special insights on the new organization, I do admit to some mixed feelings. There was a certain simplicity – an efficiency – to a single organization.  Does it really make sense to divide our efforts?  And how many people are going to be willing to do two sets of membership dues and two sets of membership obligations?  The result most likely will be a weakened NCDD and a much less cohesive coalition of DUI lawyers.

Because McShane was always the best thing for me about the NCDD, I will definitely join the new organization.  In fact, goddammit, I am going to pay the $1000 to become a founding member.  The question for me – and others — is whether I also stay with the NCDD.