CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, November 5, 2004

Mend It or End It?: The Revised ABA Capital Defense Representation Guidelines as an Opportunity to Reconsider the Death Penalty

Eric M. Freedman of Hofstra will publish the above-titled article in an upcoming issue of the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law.  The abstract to the article states:

"The revised edition of the ABA's Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases offers a lens through which to consider whether retention of capital punishment is sensible public policy.

A reader of the Guidelines finds that the current death penalty system is characterized by severely impaired clients, pervasive racism, a structural bias in favor of guilty verdicts, less effective counsel than in non-capital cases, and a dysfunctional system of post-conviction review.

No amount of money can solve these problems; at best, sufficient expenditures can ameliorate them. But making even that attempt will be costly – not just because of the amounts spent, but because those amounts are likely to be diverted from structural improvements that would produce tangible benefits to the criminal justice system as a whole.

As the states consider this situation, perhaps an unintended but welcome effect of the Guidelines' stark portrayal of the realities confronting them will be to prompt a re-consideration of the choice to have a death penalty at all."

To download the article, click here.

Mark Godsey

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