1989 Guidelines

Below are descriptions and links to the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Counsel in Death Penalty Cases, formally approved by the ABA House of Delegates in February 1989.

Note: These pages include blackletter guidelines only. If you wish to view the full Guidelines with commentary, use the link below.

You can also visit our ABA Guidelines Page to learn more about the history, use, and implementation of the Guidelines.

↪ View full Guidelines (pdf)

2003 Guidelines
Guideline Number  &  Description

(Click on guideline number to view)
1.1  Objective
2.1  Number of Attorneys Per Case
3.1  The Legal Representation Plan
4.1  Selection of Counsel
5.1  Attorney Eligibility
6.1  Workload
7.1  Monitoring and Removal
8.1  Supporting Services
9.1  Training
10.1  Compensation
11.1  Establishment of Performance Standards
11.2  Minimum Standards Not Sufficient
11.3  Determining that Death Penalty is Being Sought
11.4.1  Investigation
11.4.2  Client Contact
11.5.1  The Decision to File Pretrial Motions
11.6.1  The Plea Negotiation Process
11.6.2  The Contents of Plea Negotiations
11.6.3  The Decision to Enter a Plea of Guilty
11.6.4  Entry of the Plea Before the Court
11.7.1  General Trial Preparation
11.7.2  Voir Dire and Jury Selection
11.7.3  Objection to Error and Preservation of Issues for Post Judgment Review
11.8.1  Obligation of Counsel at the Sentencing Phase of Death Penalty Cases
11.8.2  Duties of Counsel Regarding Sentencing Options. Consequences and Procedures.
11.8.3  Preparation for the Sentencing Phase
11.8.4  The Official Presentence Report
11.8.5  The Prosecutor's Case at the Sentencing Phase
11.8.6  The Defense Case at the Sentencing Phase
11.9.1  Duties of Trial Counsel in Post Judgment Proceedings
11.9.2  Duties of Appellate Counsel
11.9.3  Duties of Postconviction Counsel
11.9.4  Duties of Clemency Counsel
11.9.5  Duties Common to All Post Judgment Counsel