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Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Michigan Law's Death Penalty Defense College

Lyon From a press release:  "Discussions about the use of the death penalty in this country elicit varying but always strong opinions. One thing for certain -- if you ever are accused of a capital offense, you want an attorney who knows what he or she is doing.  In late May, the University of Michigan Law School hosted its sixth Clarence Darrow Death Penalty Defense College, which is designed to help defense attorneys hone their skills through hands-on workshops that focus on the attorneys' current death penalty cases.  According to the college’s founder and director, Andrea Lyon, the college is "not about innocence. It’s about saving people’s lives." And the program has been successful in that goal. Since 2000 when the college was started, attorneys have brought more than 120 capital cases to the college. Lyon knows of only one case among the 120 that did not result in a plea bargain or life instead of a death sentence. That one exception was a case in which the defendant dismissed his attorney and asked to be executed.  Lyon, who is currently an associate professor at DePaul University College of Law, began the program at the University of Michigan while she was on the clinical faculty here. At DePaul, Lyon also directs the Center for Justice in Capital Cases and supervises that law school’s Death Penalty Legal Clinic. Next year the college will be hosted by DePaul, although the U-M Law School will continue its sponsorship along with the American Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Office of the State Appellate Defender of Illinois.  "I’m very grateful to the University of Michigan Law School for housing it, sponsoring it, and supporting it," Lyon says. "It’s very important work. It could not have been done without the support of U-M Law School."  More . . .  (pictured:  CrimProf Andrea Lyon) [Mark Godsey]

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