Fair Trials appoints Norman L Reimer as new Chief Executive

Article by Fair Trials

Norman L Reimer has been appointed as the new global Chief Executive of Fair Trials.

After 20 years in private practice as a defence lawyer based in New York City, Norman Reimer served for nearly 15 years as the Executive Director of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), the preeminent organisation dedicated to advancing the criminal defence bar in the US.

During Reimer’s tenure, NACDL led ground-breaking efforts to reform the US criminal legal system. As well as growing the organisation considerably, his many achievements included forging cross ideological alliances to combat pervasive injustice in the U.S. criminal legal system such as overcriminalisation, mass incarceration, systemic racial and ethnic disparity, abusive pre-trial detention practices, discovery abuse, collateral consequences, and inadequate support for public defence. Among his most noteworthy achievements are: the establishment of a Center to equip defence lawyers to meet the challenges of overly expansive digital surveillance by government; coordination of a national effort to combat abusive plea practices which have substantially eroded fundamental rights; support for a Full Disclosure Project to implement defender databases to track police misconduct; and a multi-year effort to uncover and rectify convictions tainted by flawed forensic evidence.

Additionally, he led numerous efforts to provide representation for people accused of crimes, including establishing the John Adams Project with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), to provide attorneys trained in death penalty cases to represent the accused in the military commission proceedings at Guantanamo Bay. In 2014, Reimer led a collaboration with the ACLU, FAMM, the ABA Criminal Justice Section, and federal defenders to establish Clemency Project 2014, which recruited, trained, and supported more than 3,000 pro bono attorneys to help people in prison apply for clemency. The Project secured commutations for 894 prisoners, more than 300 of whom were serving life sentences. More recently, under his leadership NACDL launched a broad based Return to Freedom Project, a multi-faceted pro bono initiative to help long-serving prisoners secure their release from prison.

Prior to his time at NACDL, Reimer was a criminal defence lawyer based in New York City for over 20 years, practicing in state and federal court at both the trial and appellate levels and promoting systemic reform through both his service as a leader of the organised bar and the chair of numerous task forces and committees. Norman Reimer also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of New Yorkers United for Justice, a coalition comprised of more than a dozen organizations on the forefront of public policy, civil rights, and legal advocacy pursuing criminal justice reform in New York State.

Commenting on the appointment, Chair of Fair Trials’ board, Eric Kolodner, said:

“The Fair Trials’ Board is delighted to announce the appointment of Norman L. Reimer as Fair Trials’ next Chief Executive. Norm is an outstanding leader, campaigner and champion of fair trial rights, who has a deep and nuanced understanding of criminal justice.

“With his exceptional record and commitment to the cause, Norm is the perfect candidate to advance Fair Trials’ in its continued fight for fair and equal justice systems around the world.”

Reimer responded:

“I am excited to join an organisation that has been at the forefront of the fight for fair trial rights around the world. I have seen first-hand Fair Trials’ brilliant work to promote fundamental reform of the US criminal legal system and have long followed its impressive track record of reform in Europe, the UK and internationally. It is an honour to succeed Jago Russell who has done so much over more than a decade to enhance Fair Trials’ capacity to confront injustice.

“Fair Trials has a crucial role to play at this pivotal moment for criminal justice globally. I look forward to working with the Fair Trials team and its partners around the world to challenge the racism, inequality and injustice that pervades our criminal legal systems.”

Reimer will succeed outgoing Chief Executive, Jago Russell, who is stepping down this autumn after 13 years at Fair Trials.

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