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Death Penalty Defender Training Programs

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2008, $100,000)

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 (OCDC) will utilize the Fiscal Year 2008 CCLI funds to train approximately 30 defense counsel via two, three-day state-based trainings. In 2000, the Mississippi Legislature established OCDC to provide high-quality representation to individuals charged with death penalty eligible offenses and to address the financial aspects resulting from death penalty cases. Mississippi does not have a statewide public defender agency, and does not have formal qualifications for defense attorneys who represent death penalty cases. The OCDC has no authority in assigning counsel or setting standards; public defenders and counsel are selected by trial court judges.

Most of the State's public defenders are members of the Mississippi Public Defender Association (MPDA). Due to funding limitations, MPDA trainings rarely concentrate on death penalty issues. To continue addressing the State's limited death penalty training opportunities, the OCDC will utilize grant funds to train defenders with greatest need of assistance by conducting two training programs: one will be provided in the Northern region and the second will be provided in the Gulf region. The OCDC proposes to 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. Federal funds will cover travel expenses, training materials, audio-visual services, and meeting room rental.


Date Created: September 9, 2008