On March 9, 2016, Chief Justice Hugh P. Thompson of the Supreme Court of Georgia and Chief Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr. of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia hosted an informational meeting about volunteer opportunities with the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project in Atlanta, Georgia. Over 30 Atlanta-based attorneys gathered in the United States Courthouse for the Northern District of Georgia to learn about ways to assist death row prisoners without counsel. Both Chief Justice Thompson and Chief Judge Thrash spoke at the meeting about the importance of pro bono capital counsel and encouraged members of the private bar to consider taking cases. Linda Klein, ABA President-Elect, provided welcome remarks and discussed the ABA’s long history of advocating for due process in capital cases, including access to qualified defense counsel.
Lawyers from civil law firms who have represented death row prisoners, experienced capital defense lawyers, and representatives from the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project gave compelling presentations on their personal volunteer experience and the overwhelming need for pro bono counsel.
“We had a wonderful turnout from the Atlanta legal community to hear from judges, volunteer lawyers, public defenders and staff about the need for volunteers and the support they will receive from the death penalty defense community,” said Robert L. Rothman, Chair of the Project Steering Committee. “It was inspiring to hear so many lawyers describe how personally and professionally meaningful their work on these capital habeas cases has been to them.”
The goal of the Death Penalty Representation Project is to ensure that every person facing a death sentence has access to high-quality legal representation. Informational meetings are held throughout the year in various locations across the country to engage new volunteer attorneys in the Project’s work.
In you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities with the Project or would like to host an informational meeting in your city, please contact Shannon Redd at Shannon.Redd@americanbar.org. Please note, prior criminal or post-conviction experience is not required to volunteer.