ABA Forum in Tallahassee with the Florida State University Center for the Advancement of Human Rights.
My View essay in October 30th, 2010 edition Tallahassee, Democrat
Raoul G. Cantero III and Mark R. Schlakman
Four years ago, the American Bar Association released a comprehensive Florida Death Penalty Assessment Team report that raised serious concerns about the state’s death penalty process. Since then, with few exceptions, state government has done little to remedy problems identified in the report.
To conduct the assessment, the ABA assembled a diverse and highly qualified eight member team to work in collaboration with its Washington, D.C. based staff.
The objective was to ensure that prosecutorial, defense, judicial, academic and other relevant perspectives were adequately represented when assessing Florida’s death penalty process.
The team resolved at the outset that its findings and recommendations had to be unanimous to be included in the report. Put simply, the report’s findings and recommendations were intended to improve the administration of justice in Florida and promote fairness and accuracy in our criminal-justice system without regard to ones views on capital punishment.
Among the key findings was that death penalty defendants often receive abysmal legal representation.
The report makes several related recommendations, including reinstating the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel office in the northern region of Florida (it was disbanded within the context of a still ongoing pilot project that relies on private registry counsel). These private lawyers generally don’t specialize in capital defense work nor do they benefit from the supervision and support available to CCRC lawyers in central and south Florida, and they typically receive only nominal compensation for their efforts. Continue reading ‘State must act to fix flaws in the death penalty’ »