News

Press Coverage & Mentions

Stories from the news media about the Death Penalty Representation Project and our work.

2020

Tennessee Supreme Court Stays Prisoner’s Execution Because of Investigative Time Lost to Pandemic, Death Penalty Information Center, April 17, 2020. 

Project Director Emily Olson-Gault submitted an affidavit in support of Tennessee death-row prisoner Oscar Franklin Smith’s claim that due to the COVID-19 pandemic his legal team had lost “critical time” for investigation in his case.

Additional Press about Oscar Franklin Smith: 

2019

Domineque Ray Is Set to Be Executed Thursday. Did He Ever Really Have a Chance at Being Spared?, ProPublica, Feb. 4, 2019

In 2002, the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project referred the case of Domineque Ray to attorney Peter, who has continued to advocate for Ray throughout his capital proceedings. 

Additional Press about Domineque Ray:

2018

Legislature’s Judiciary Committee hears need for defense attorney standards in death penalty casesLincoln Journal Star, Sep. 7, 2018

Project Director Emily Olson-Gault addresses the importance of adopting the American Bar Association standards for defense attorneys in death penalty cases, noting that the guidelines represent a baseline for what is necessary to ensure fairness and accuracy in capital cases.

ABA groups launch clemency information clearinghouse for death penalty cases, ABA Journal, June 2018

2017

Updates from the Military Commissions, 11/13: Finally, a Cross-Examination!Lawfare Blog, Nov. 28, 2017

Additional press about USS Cole bombing testimony:

USS Cole’s deck was scene of ‘chaos, panic’ after al-Qaida’s bombingMiami Herald (Carol Rosenberg), Nov. 8, 2017

  • Part of award winning series "Death-Penalty Defense Drama at Guantanamo War Court," recipient of the 2018 ABA Silver Gavel Award for Newspaper Reporting

'Show me the proof…before you can get the proof': Ayestas offers the Court the chance to fix a paradoxical and unfair standard in death penalty casesAmerican Constitution Society (ACSblog), Oct. 27, 2017

Additional press about Ayestas v. Davis:

2016

Mississippi Attorney General James Hood defends discredited forensic experts, harasses defense attorneys insteadWashington Post, Aug. 25, 2016

In an affidavit Project Director Emily Olson-Gault voiced the ABA’s concerns about Mississippi Attorney General’s use of Rule 22 of Mississippi’s Rules of Appellate Procedure, noting that Hood’s interpretation of this rule could harm indigent capital defendants in Mississippi. 

Have Mercy: New Opportunities for Commutations in Death Penalty Cases, Human Rights Magazine - ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Vol. 42, Iss. 2 (pdf)

2014

ABA Groups Lend Expertise for Federal Judiciary and Death Penalty IssuesPass It On - ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division, Winter 2014 Vol. 23, No. 2 (pdf)

2013

ABA Death Penalty Representation Project honored for its fight for justice for death row prisonersABA News, Oct. 9, 2013

The Project was honored in Philadelphia at the Witness to Innocence 10th Anniversary Celebration for its work to “enact meaningful changes in our criminal justice system.”

2012

Attorneys for the Damned: ABA Project Marks 25 Years of Providing Counsel to Death Row InmatesABA Journal, Jul. 1, 2012

After Joe Lee Guy was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in Texas in 1993, attorneys from Minneapolis-based Dorsey & Whitney took up his case on appeal. They had a hard time believing some of what they found—or didn’t find—in the files from his trial.

Additional press about the Project's 25th Anniversary:

2011

A Dose of OptimismHarvard Law Bulletin, July 1, 2011

Attorney Kenneth Frazier discusses the exoneration of his client, James Cochran, who spent 21 years on death row. Frazier began representing Cochran after Esther Lardent, head of the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project, sought his assistance on the case.

Volunteer on Capital Cases: Join the ABA Death Penalty Representation ProjectThe Young Lawyer (pdf), Feb. 2011

There are 3,300 people on death row in the United States, and 99.5 percent of them are indigent. For too many, without the generosity of pro bono attorneys, they will face death alone. 

2010

The High Price of LifeThe American Lawyer (pdf), Jul. 1, 2010

In Search of Volunteer Lawyers for Death Row InmatesThe BLT: The Blog of the LegalTimes, Mar. 9, 2010

Robin Maher, director of the American Bar Association Death Penalty Representation Project, discusses the difficulty she has faced in finding pro bono representation for prisoners on death row.   

2009

Saving Clients from the Death PenaltyVault Blog, March 10, 2009

Hays & Handler litigation partner, John Howley, discusses the important role the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project has played in death penalty case referrals. Howley’s firm has represented several clients referred to by the Death Penalty Representation Project, including Calvin Swann in his final clemency hearing.

2004

Luring Pro Bono Lawyers For Death Row's ForgottenThe Washington Post, Nov. 30, 2004

Project Director Robin Maher talks about the uphill battle in convincing law firms to take on capital appeals at no cost.

Death-Defying Acts: Many firms cite their capital case pro bono work. These good deeds save lives but can’t redeem an intrinsically flawed systemThe American Lawyer, Jan. 12, 2004

Project Director Robin Maher addresses how large firms play an increasingly important role in capital cases as states cut resources. While capital case pro bono work has resulted in the sentences of some defendants being overturned or reduced, the system remains plagued with injustices including ineffective assistance, inadequate resources, and racial bias.

2003

Civil firms can offer life to inmates on death rowThe Houston Chronicle, Sep. 2, 2003  

Offensive defenses -- Death-penalty defendants deserve strong counsel, Philadelphia Inquirer, editorial, Feb. 24, 2003

Press Mentions