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. The Center for Death Penalty Litigation 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.
The N.C. Supreme Court will hear arguments August 26 and 27 in the cases of six death row prisoners who have presented evidence that racial bias tainted their trials and death sentences. “The court must answer a key question for North Carolina,” said staff attorney David Weiss. “Will our state abide by its constitution and confront the evidence that race has played an unacceptable role in death penalty trials? Or will we throw the evidence away without a hearing and send the message that pervasive racial bias doesn’t matter, even in life-and-death trials?”
Black people have a constitutional right to serve on juries, just like white people. That should go without saying. But the reality is that prosecutors use all kinds of tricks and excuses to stop black citizens from sitting on juries. In this 5-minute audio documentary created by students at Duke’s Center for Documentary Studies, CDPL attorney Johanna Jennings explains how this form of racial discrimination persists in the courtroom.
Please join us in Durham on Sept. 26 to celebrate the winners of this year’s J. Kirk Osborn Award for leadership in capital defense: Bob Trenkle, an attorney who has spent three decades defending capital clients, and Etta Blankenship, the private investigator, who also does mitigation work, who has worked beside Bob on many of his death penalty cases. Bob and Etta exemplify the team approach to capital defense that is key to saving clients’ lives. Please read on to learn more about Bob and Etta’s outstanding careers and to reserve your tickets to their reception.
Learn more about the death penalty. For a fuller listing, go to our Links page:
- N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
- Carolina Justice Policy Center
- 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.