The Center for Death Penalty Litigation is a non-profit law firm that provides direct representation to inmates on North Carolina’s death row, as well as consulting with and training attorneys who practice capital litigation across the state. CDPL’s commitment to representing indigent and disadvantaged defendants just as vigorously as corporate lawyers defend their highest-paying clients has saved the lives of many who faced execution. In addition to representing individual clients, CDPL spearheads litigation that addresses systemic injustices and educates the public about the death penalty. CDPL has been a leading force in dramatically reducing the number of executions in North Carolina, and has cast light on the arbitrariness and unfairness of our state’s capital punishment system.

CDPL client declared innocent, released from death row


Henry McCollum shakes hands with CDPL attorney Vernetta Alston — Photo by Jenny Warburg

On Sept. 2, CDPL client Henry McCollum, N.C.’s longest serving death row inmate, was exonerated. Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser declared Henry and his brother, Leon Brown, innocent of the rape and murder for which they were sentenced to death 30 years ago. CDPL represented Henry for the past 20 years, along with attorneys from the law firm of Wilmer Hale, and the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission conducted substantial investigation in the case. Read about this amazing, tragic case in the N&O.

2014 was the Year of Exonerations

Seven more death-sentenced people were exonerated in the U.S. this year, exposing grave flaws in the nation’s capital punishment system. North Carolina passed its eighth year without an execution. Read about the decline of the death penalty on the blog of the N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.