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By Chris Adams
Death Watch columns.
In the wake of criticism over the quality of defense counsel in
capital cases, including from Supreme Court justices Sandra Day O’Connor
and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the American Bar Association has adopted the
ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in
Death Penalty Cases (hereinafter “the Guidelines”). The Guidelines,
which are intended to set a national standard of practice in state and
federal death penalty defense, received 96 percent of the House of
Delegates vote at the ABA’s February meeting.
The Guidelines deal with everything from A to Z, or in this case with
everything from when counsel should be appointed to the duty of counsel
seeking clemency. Regardless of whether you are a habeas lawyer in Texas or a trial lawyer in New Hampshire, the Guidelines have something you can use in defending your client.
The ABA originally approved capital litigation standards in 1989,
which have been adopted by many jurisdictions. This 134-p
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