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On January 10, 2009 at the ABA Section of Litigation Winter Leadership Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Project hosted “The ABA’s Role in Changing Capital Representation.”
In difficult economic times the need for pro bono legal assistance grows bigger, not smaller. State agencies and defender organizations have fewer resources and staff to represent indigent defendants and Death Row prisoners.
Based on recently released data, Alabama sentenced more people to death per capita in 2006 than any other state in the country. But Alabama has yet to adopt a statewide public defender office or to implement close oversight of indigent legal services.
The Project is currently seeking clemency counsel for a prisoner on Federal Death Row in Indiana. The client was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Texas in 1995. The clemency arguments will draw attention to important mitigating evidence, such as the client’s neuropsychological deficits and his history of growing up in a violent home atmosphere.
Albert Carreon, an Arizona Death Row prisoner, was convicted on February 25, 2005. Appointed state post-conviction counsel was determined to be medically incompetent and removed from the case. At the ABA’s request, Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP stepped in as pro bono counsel
The global economic crisis is having a significant impact on the available funding for indigent capital defense across the U.S. Many states have imposed across-the-board reductions for staff and funding in all state offices, which have particularly severe effects on indigent defense services because of their existing tight budgets. The current fiscal emergencies have, without a doubt, created crises for indigent capital defense in almost every death penalty jurisdiction.