Defendants who face the death penalty often can’t afford to pay for an attorney, so they are assigned one. Whether they receive the death penalty, life without parole or are acquitted often depends on a strong criminal defense. Students in the Capital Defender Clinic assist the Office of the Georgia Capital Defender in representing defendants who face the death penalty or are on direct appeal from death sentences.
Students work with capital defender attorneys. They focus heavily on the real – and often tragic – stories of their clients’ lives as opposed to technical or arcane points of law. Through this year-long clinical course, students assist in building factual and legal narratives to support the reversal of death sentences on appeal. Students interview, investigate and review evidence. They also present arguments supporting mock motions and jury sentencing.
Students must commit to two semesters (one full year) to participate in this clinic. In addition, students must commit to two hours of class meetings and 10-12 client work hours per week to receive the clinic’s total 4 credit hours per semester.
“Through the Capital Defense Clinic, I was given the opportunity to connect with clients, and the walls between us seemed to fall. I was reminded every day that my work had a direct impact on the life of another human. That was a first for me in law school, and truly propelled my trajectory towards a career in public defense.” – Olivia Shellman
Students will be admitted in the spring and are encouraged to apply early.
- Conducting investigations
- Interviewing clients and potential witnesses
- Compiling forensic evidence
- Seeking documents
- Conducting research
- Drafting pleadings
- Formulating defense theories
- Strategizing each phase of the case