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October 10, 2018

2003 Guideline 5.1


A. The Responsible Agency should develop and publish qualification standards for defense counsel in capital cases. These standards should be construed and applied in such a way as to further the overriding goal of providing each client with high quality legal representation.

B. In formulating qualification standards, the Responsible Agency should insure:

1.That every attorney representing a capital defendant has:

a. obtained a license or permission to practice in the jurisdiction;

b. demonstrated a commitment to providing zealous advocacy and high quality legal representation in the defense of capital cases; and

c. satisfied the training requirements set forth in Guideline 8.1.

2. That the pool of defense attorneys as a whole is such that each capital defendant within the jurisdiction receives high quality legal representation. Accordingly, the qualification standards should insure that the pool includes sufficient numbers of attorneys who have demonstrated:

a. substantial knowledge and understanding of the relevant state, federal and international law, both procedural and substantive, governing capital cases;

b. skill in the management and conduct of complex negotiations and litigation;

c. skill in legal research, analysis, and the drafting of litigation documents;

d. skill in oral advocacy;

e. skill in the use of expert witnesses and familiarity with common areas of forensic investigation, including fingerprints, ballistics, forensic pathology, and DNA evidence;

f. skill in the investigation, preparation, and presentation of evidence bearing upon mental status;

g. skill in the investigation, preparation, and presentation of mitigating evidence; and

h. skill in the elements of trial advocacy, such as jury selection, cross-examination of witnesses, and opening and closing statements.