President's Message

The Board of Directors of ACDLA is pleased to announce that Mrs. Mary Beth Wyatt of Clanton has been hired and begun work as our new Executive Director.

Mrs. Wyatt is a graduate of Auburn University (War Eagle).  She is an experienced executive director and event planner with a background of developing and implementing innovative programs and services while leading organizations during periods of growth and transition.

Mrs. Wyatt is a perfect mix of energy, optimism, enthusiasm and determination to get the job done. I am confident Mrs. Wyatt will help us increase our membership and improve services to our members.

Mary Beth, Welcome to ACDLA!

Bill Broome






Past President

I would like to begin by thanking each one of you for your patience during this time of change in the organization.  The sudden and untimely resignation of our Executive Director at the end of November put a huge responsibility on the board and myself to keep the day to day responsibilities of the organization moving forward as smoothly as possible during the most important and busiest time of the year with membership renewals, two major seminars: Four Corners seminars at 5 locations around our state, and the Death Penalty Seminar. 

           As President this year, it has been important to me to encourage you as a member to take ownership of this great organization and volunteer your time and expertise to making this organization stronger and better for the future.  The Board and I have been working really hard this year to assess our organization’s finances, memberships, seminars, website, and goals so that we may better serve you, our members. 

The purpose of our organization according to our By-Laws in Article II is as follows:

The Association is formed exclusively for charitable, scientific and educational purposes, including without limitation, the following purposes:

.                      (a)  To protect and ensure by the rule of law, those individual rights guaranteed by the Alabama and Federal Constitutions in criminal cases; to resist the efforts which are constantly being made to curtail such rights; to encourage cooperation between lawyers engaged in furtherance of such objectives through educational programs and other assistance, to promote justice and the common good;

.                      (b)  To promote study and research in the field of criminal defense law and the related arts;

.                      (c)  To disseminate by lecture, seminars, and publications, the advancement of knowledge of the law as it relates and is ancillary to the field of criminal defense practice;

.                      (d)  To promote and lobby in favor of the proper administration of criminal justice;

.                      (e)  To foster, maintain and encourage the integrity, independence, and expertise of defense lawyers in criminal cases; and,

.                      (f)  To foster periodic meetings of defense lawyers and to provide a forum for material exchange of information regarding the administration of criminal justiceand thereby concern itself with the protection of individual rights and the improvement of criminal law, its practices and procedures.


            To implement the purpose of the organization, the Board has taken the following steps:  we are improving the quality of the CLEs, researching varies locations to provide CLEs opportunities, and provide varying cost options for CLEs based on the individual’s need for CLE hours, status of membership, and scholarships.    

            Our second focus has been the every changing dynamics in the practice of criminal law, it has been important for the Board to focus on the needs and hardships that so many of our members have faced in the last few years and to try to address these issues so that we can continue to serve you with the same high quality of services, but at an affordable price that will encourage new members to join and help us to maintain our current membership.  At the last Board meeting on April 4, 2014, the board made a proposed By-Laws change as it relates to membership dues.  If the new proposed dues structure passes at the annual meeting then we will be able to provide the same great services and opportunities with our members at lower annual dues. 

            The Board has suggested a second By-Law change to be voted on at our Annual Meeting this year.  This change is related to the term for the position of Treasurer on the Executive Committee.  The Board believes that making this position a four year position, instead of a one year position, would strengthen the financial situation of the organization, provide a year to year written budget, transparency of our finances, and more accountability to the members of our organization.   

            Since this is my last article as your President, I would like to thank each and every one of the Board members of ACDLA for their volunteer service to our organization.  As President, I took Former First Lady of the United States Rosalynn Carter’s quote on leadership to heart.  She stated that “A leader takes people where they want to go.  A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”  This year, I definitely took the Board to places that they did not want to go, but we had to go for the future of our organization.  The Board had to confront some very difficult issues about our financial situation and employee to ensure that our organization would be here for another 33 years.  As you President, I will tell you that I did not have all the answers to every situation, but had the wisdom and support of many people.   In reflection of this past year, I realize that I could have approached some situations in a different way to reach the same outcome, but I did the best I could at each given time to ensure that ACDLA was accountable and transparent with all the financials of the organization. 

            I am proud of each and everyone of our 2013-2014 Board members for attending 6 scheduled board meeting in Panama City Beach, Florida, Montgomery, Huntsville, 2 in Birmingham, and the last one in Montgomery.  Just in Board meeting this year the Board meet for over 32 hours, this did not include email discussions, phone conferences, committee meetings, and any other assistance I might have requested from your board members.    Every single Board member took time away from their practices, family obligations, and other community and civil obligations to contribute to make sure that ACDLA remained strong for the future to come.  Each Board member came to each meeting focused, prepared and passionate about every issue.

            I have been a very active Board member for 9 years and I can attest to each of you that this has been harder than any other year because taking care of own house and affairs was harder than taking on the world that we are generally up against.  The 2013-2014 Board has worked so hard to ensure that we never have to face the obstacles that we had to face this year and we are ensuring that our financial situation from this year forward is transparent and accountable for years to come.  The budget committee, Robert Hagler, Nettie Blume, Mike Winter, and Elizabeth Glasscox, had a difficult job of sorting though years of financial records.  However, they worked tirelessly to inform the board about ACDLA past and current financial situation.  The best news of all is that we were able to save an enormous amount of money from December through current on our largest expense, Executive Director.  As your President, I have stepped into those shoes and managed to keep the day to day operation moving forward at a 100% savings to the organizations, as I have been doing these task for free.  However, I would not have been able to accomplish it without the help of Mike Winter and Jeff Duffey for helping with the banking accounts and working so close with the accountant and bankers in Montgomery.  Many thanks to Mike Winter for checking the ACDLA P.O. Box on a daily bases and mailing me the bills and your payments.  Michael Hanle has been my rock of making sure that I keep up with deadlines and helping get the awards for this year’s Death Penalty Seminar and the person that would be truthful with me whether I wanted to hear what he had to say or not.  Bill Broome and Paul Young for your brilliant minds and hours of assistance and guidance.  Carmen Howell for being our designated person to keep accurate minutes at every meeting.  Hays Webb and Patrick Tuten for helping me keep it in between the lines when my passion and drive would occasionally stir me to far in one direction.  Jeremy Armstrong, Dani Bone, and Russell Burgstrom for always taking my phone calls and helping brainstorm for the best possible resolution to issues.  Ron Smith, Brian White, David Johnston, and Sirena Saunders thank you for always keeping your finger on the pulse of the membership and helping to make sure that I was not overlooking any of the day to day obligations of our organization.  The 2013-2014 Board of Directors for ACDLA have worked extremely hard this year to ensure that ACDLA is stronger and focused on our purpose. 

            My love for this organization and all the members that make it so wonderful, it has been my pleasure to serve you.

Amber L. Ladner
Past President of ACDLA
May 2013- May 2014