Center for Capital Defense

The Center for Capital Defense (CCD) represents indigent clients facing the death penalty at all stages of the legal process—trial, appeal, post-conviction, and clemency—in both state and federal court, around the nation. In recent years, the Center has worked on cases in the state courts of Texas, Oregon, Arizona, and Washington, as well as in the federal appellate courts for the Fifth and Eighth Circuits and in the Supreme Court of the United States. The Center also represents amici curiae in death penalty appeals and collaborates with individuals and organizations working to improve defense representation in capital cases and ensure that the death penalty is administered fairly. In pursuing these goals, the CCD partners with global law firms, nonprofit agencies like public defender offices, and other law school clinics.

Director Rob Owen describes the Center’s work: "Our students gain valuable skills that can be transferred to other complex legal work, including but not limited to litigation, even if they never encounter another death penalty case—although many of them do, as many law firms devote a large part of their pro bono practice to capital defense. Death penalty law is intellectually rigorous, because the doctrines that regulate the imposition of capital punishment are numerous and complex. More important, there is immense personal and emotional satisfaction in fighting for a client’s life, and that experience stays with our students for a lifetime."