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Death Penalty Defender Training Programs

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2007, $50,000)

The purpose of the Capital Case Litigation Initiative (CCLI) is to provide high-quality training and technical assistance on death penalty issues to judges and attorneys who litigate death penalty cases. This program focuses on ensuring quality representation and reliable jury verdicts. The goals of CCLI are to increase the number of capital litigation attorneys trained in death penalty cases, and to ensure that defense counsel, prosecutors, and judges have the most up-to-date and comprehensive information available to them on death penalty litigation.

The Mississippi Office of Capital Defense Counsel will utilize the 2007 CCLI funds to train approximately 36 defense counsel via two state-based trainings set 6 months apart. In 2000, the Mississippi Legislature established the Office of Capital Defense Counsel (OCDC) to improve the overall quality of death penalty advocacy and to address the financial aspects resulting from death penalty cases. The OCDC provides high quality representation to individuals charged with death penalty eligible offenses; this amounts to approximately one-third of the cases per year. Mississippi does not have a state-wide public defender agency, and does not have formal qualifications for defense attorneys who represent death penalty cases. Also, the OCDC has no authority in assigning counsel or setting standards ' counsel and public defenders are selected by trial court judges. Most of the State's public defenders are members of the Mississippi Public Defender Association (MPDA), which provides training programs funded by the Mississippi Judicial College. These [defender] trainings rarely concentrate on death penalty issues.

To address the State's limited death penalty training opportunities, the OCDC will utilize these funds to train defenders in greatest need of assistance by conducting two training programs set 6 months apart. One program will be held at the University of Mississippi (Oxford); the second will be held in Harrison County (Gulf Coast). The Judicial College is housed at the University and will provide TA, if needed. The OCDC will utilize the 'Bring-Your-Own-Case' teaching format, as this method has proven successful among adult practitioners. This format will allow participants to apply legal theories and trial techniques, thus maximizing the impact of the training. Topics of discussion will include: psychotic disorders, brainstorming theory, culture investigation, and cognitive limitations. The faculty will consist of both nationally recognized experts and experienced Mississippi defenders ' including OCDC staff. Funds will cover travel expenses (airfare, ground transportation, lodging, and meals for approximately 50 individuals), training materials and reproduction costs (notebooks, hand-outs, CD-ROM articles, binders, etc.), and audio-visual services, and meeting room rental.


Date Created: July 26, 2007