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Death Penalty Representation Project

The Death Penalty Representation Project is the Association’s expert on issues related to the defense effort in death penalty cases. Since 1986 its singular focus has been to improve the quality and availability of legal representation for persons facing  possible death sentences.

2023 Volunteer Recognition & Awards Program

The Project was proud to honor pro bono law firm Venable LLP and capital defender Mark E. Olive at the 2023 Volunteer Recognition & Awards Event on September 14, 2023, in Washington, DC and to welcome Sister Helen Prejean as our keynote speaker. Visit the event page to view photos, video, and more from the celebration!

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ABA Journal: ABA project seeks more pro bono attorneys in wake of Supreme Court death penalty decision

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Shinn v. Ramirez, the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project put out a call for more pro bono attorneys to help represent people on death row.

Get Involved

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Image of the U.S. Supreme Court building with an American flag

Supreme Court “Guts” Case Law Protecting the Right to Counsel

There is no federal constitutional right to counsel for prisoners on death row. In Shinn v. Ramirez, decided May 23rd, that constitutional void allowed an ideologically divided U.S. Supreme Court to hold that federal courts should be bound by the evidence introduced in prior state proceedings, regardless of whether the prisoner had the assistance of an effective post-conviction lawyer – or any lawyer at all.

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Donate to the Project

Consider showing your support for our work by making a tax-deductible financial contribution to the Death Penalty Representation Project. Your assistance is essential to the Project’s success and to the lives of the men and women on death row.


Guidelines and Standards for Capital Representation

Information and standards about the appointment and performance of defense counsel in capital cases, including the 1989 and 2003 ABA Guidelines, as well as analysis of Bobby v. Van Hook.

View - Guidelines and Standards

Capital Clemency Resource Clearinghouse

The Project site for the public and practitioners devoted to capital clemency, as part of its joint Clemency Initiative. Visit our Initiative page to learn more!

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Learn from Volunteers!

Listen to recorded testimonials from several of our most experienced volunteer attorneys! Each recording addresses a different topic or question of interest to new volunteers.

Listen to - Testimonials

Success Stories

Thousands of volunteer attorneys have donated their time, skills, and resources to provide life-changing assistance to prisoners on death row. Every case placed with pro bono counsel is a victory for fairness and due process.

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Public Interest Membership

ABA membership has new benefits and discounted rates for Public Interest Lawyers. Benefits include access to professional networks, valuable resources, free online CLE and much more!

Learn More About Our Work

Volunteer & Client Testimonials

The Death Penalty Representation Project has worked for 30 years to improve the quality of and access to counsel for individuals facing the death penalty. This short video about our work features just a few of our pro bono lawyers and their clients.

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Looking for legal help?

If you are looking for legal assistance on a death penalty case, click here to see if you meet the Project's criteria. You can also find a list of state and national organizations that may be able to help.

Find - Legal Help

Contact Us

Submit this form to get in touch with Project staff.