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ABA Guidelines

The Death Penalty Representation Project is the home of the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment & Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases. The Guidelines reflect well-established national norms of capital defense practice and have been adopted as Association Policy regarding the minimum requirements for the defense effort in capital cases.

Ways to Access the Guidelines

Interactive Guidelines

Use our Interactive Guidelines resource to search and view the text of the 2003 Guidelines with easy access to the source citations that provide the support for the blackletter text and commentary. Housed on (registered practitioners only).

2003 Guidelines - Interactive Edition

Implementation Summary

Fact sheet summarizing how the Guidelines have been formally adopted in state, federal, and local jurisdictions.

Bobby v. Van Hook

The US Supreme Court's 2009 decision in Bobby v. Van Hook raised questions about the application of the ABA Guidelines to counsel performance that occurred many years ago. Read the opinion and our 2018 law review article about the Court's decision. If you have questions about the historical relevance of the Guidelines, please contact our staff for additional assistance.


Read - Van Hook Article