December 01, 2012

2012 Project Highlights

At the Death Penalty Representation Project, we believe that every individual facing or challenging a death sentence is entitled to a zealous defense by competent and effective counsel. We work to achieve this goal by recruiting volunteer attorneys from law firms to represent death-sentenced prisoners without lawyers, by training judges and defenders around the country on effective practices of capital defense, and by working to achieve systemic reform that will improve the quality of counsel.

Over the past 26 years, the Project has recruited over 200 law firms to represent death-sentenced prisoners throughout the country. The heroic efforts of these volunteers have saved the lives of more than 50 death-sentenced prisoners. Together, we are making a difference.

  • This year, the Project worked with over 50 civil law firms to secure representation for death row prisoners, bringing the total number of prisoners assisted since 1998 to 286.
  • Since the Project's creation 26 years ago, thousands of volunteer lawyers nationwide have contributed well over one hundred million dollars of billable time to ensuring justice in death penalty cases.
  • The Project co-hosted a day-long Symposium with the University of Minnesota School of Law Journal of Law & Inequality entitled “Perspectives on the Death Penalty: Comparative Solutions from the Classroom to the Courtroom.”
  • The Project worked closely with defenders and volunteer attorneys to draft and submit amicus briefs in two death penalty cases before the United States Supreme Court.
  • Project staff made presentations at 11 events in nine different states about the work of the Project, the need for volunteer attorneys, and the problems with the death penalty system.  
  • The Project worked with judges and defenders in Arizona to create a program that  certifies attorneys to represent capital clients before they can be appointed to capital trials and appeals.
  • The Project continued its support of litigation efforts in Mississippi to ensure that death row prisoners have access to qualified and adequately resourced counsel.
  • Project staff served as faculty at five national training conferences held around the country for capital defenders. Project Director Robin M. Maher also travelled to Beijing to participate in a judicial conference dedicated to capital punishment issues in China.
  • Over 1100 volunteer attorneys and capital defenders now belong to the Project’s secured capital defender resource website, which received nearly 23,000 visits in the past year.