All criminal defendants are constitutionally entitled to effective representation of counsel. Unfortunately, lack of resources, time, and skills often renders many capital counsel ineffective, denying numerous capital defendants that fundamental right and often resulting in a sentence of death.
In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court indicated in Roper v. Simmons that the death penalty must be reserved for “the worst of the worst,” i.e., offenders who commit “‘the most serious crimes’ and whose extreme culpability makes them ‘the most deserving of execution.’” Quality of counsel, however, is a far better predictor of who gets sentenced to death and ultimately executed. The death penalty is arbitrary and capricious, in part because the “worst of the worst” sometimes describes the quality of representation for those facing it.
- Legal DocumentMay 29, 2018
ACLU, NACDL, Leadership Conference, Brennan Center, and Constitution Project write Members of Congress Opposing Department of Justice’s Proposal to Close Access to Justice Office.LetterFebruary 22, 2018
- News/Press ReleaseJanuary 19, 2018
- News/Press ReleaseNovember 2, 2017
- Blog Post - Speak FreelyNovember 2, 2017
ACLU Challenges Miami-Dade Court’s Removal of Public Defenders from People Facing Criminal Charges, Forcing Them to Represent ThemselvesNews/Press ReleaseSeptember 28, 2017
- News/Press ReleaseJuly 15, 2015
- Legal DocumentApril 27, 2016
- News/Press ReleaseMarch 24, 2016