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 employees spent the spring and summer criss-crossing rural North Carolina, interviewing jurors who unanimously voted to send Henry McCollum to death row. Now that McCollum has been exonerated, the jurors struggle with regret and confusion. “Some feared God’s wrath, and wondered if they would go to hell for McCollum’s wrongful conviction. Some shed tears at the mention of his name and said the experience was too painful to revisit. They remembered McCollum at the defense table, silent and unresponsive, like a confused and broken child.” Read more of Kristin Collins’ op-ed from the News & Observer.
For more than a decade, CDPL has been among the leaders of the fight to end racial discrimination in North Carolina’s capital punishment system. Today, that work continues on multiple fronts. Our attorneys continue to litigate the cases of more than 100 defendants under the Racial Justice Act, and to educate the public about the fact that, even in 2018, black citizens continue to be denied their fundamental right to serve on a jury. Recently, several new articles have been published about our work on this critical issue.
With Hurricane Florence approaching, CDPL has decided to postpone its reception celebrating Jon Megerian and Frank Wells, the winners of this year’s J. Kirk Osborn Award for leadership in capital defense. We will now celebrate their achievements on October 11, from 6:30 to 9 p.m., at Parizade in Durham. Frank and Jon are known across North Carolina for their zealous defense of people facing the death penalty — winning unlikely victories at trial, holding off executions for people on death row, and standing by their clients until the end. It’s not too late to register for the event in their honor.
Learn more about the death penalty. For a fuller listing, go to our Links page:
- N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
- N.C. Advocates for Justice
- Death Penalty Information Center
See Our Impact
CDPL’s staff has halted wrongful executions, helped free innocent people from death row, and exposed systemic injustices. Learn more about the work that has made CDPL a leader in addressing unfairness in capital punishment.