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Justice for All: Equipping Judges to Ensure the Highest Integrity in Handling Capital Cases

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,000,000)

The National Judicial College (NJC) proposes a 24-month project to ensure the highest integrity in capital cases by delivering training and technical assistance to state court judges. Based upon NJC’s unrivaled experience as a trusted provider of judicial education and in the subject matter of capital cases, there is no better entity to work hand-in-hand with state judiciaries to ensure judges understand the grave responsibility of managing a capital case, have the skills and abilities they need, and are attuned to the racial justice implications of their decisions.

NJC will convene an expert Advisory Committee to guide the project and will assess the needs of the field through a series of surveys and literature reviews. NJC will work with the chief justices and state judicial educators in the 24 states where capital punishment is authorized to coordinate tailored products and services.

Examples of subject matter that judges must study before handling a capital case include: Supreme Court of the United States Case Review; Pretrial Matters Unique to Capital Cases; Creating a Capital Case Toolbox; Jury Selection Issues Unique to Capital Cases; Media Management Issues; Judicial Security; Mental Issues in Capital Cases – Competency, Insanity, Intellectual Disability; Trial Issues Unique to Capital Cases; Mental Mitigation; Penalty Phase; Waiving Mitigation; Constitutional Matters; Writing the Opinion in a Capital Case; Post-Conviction Matters; Judicial Ethics; Appellate Issues; Judicial Wellness & Vicarious Trauma; and, Racial Justice.

NJC will deliver quarterly webinars, three offerings of a six-week online course, an updated bench book, Presiding Over the Capital Case, a bench card, a clearinghouse of model orders, sample colloquies and checklists, and eight podcasts. NJC will tailor four courses for in-state delivery and will ensure all products adhere to standards of adult learning theory, and are 508 compliant. The impact will be national in scope and we expect to reach hundreds of judges and every one of the 24 impacted states.

Date Created: September 8, 2023