CDPL is a non-profit law firm that represents people on death row, coordinates capital litigation across North Carolina, and serves as a clearinghouse for accurate and timely information on the N.C. death penalty. We believe that indigent defendants facing the death penalty deserve the same kind of high-quality representation available to the highest-paying clients. We also believe that ending the unjust and error-prone death penalty is a crucial part of building a more humane criminal justice system in North Carolina.
A new decision from the North Carolina Supreme Court has taken an important first step to address a problem that civil rights advocates have long highlighted: the epidemic of race-based exclusion of black citizens from jury service in North Carolina. The decision marks a turning point in North Carolina, where two separate studies have found that qualified black citizens are struck from juries at more than twice the rate of qualified white citizens. It will begin a culture change in a state where trial judges routinely dismiss complaints of racially motivated jury strikes without thorough investigation, and where the appellate courts have never in their history upheld a claim of race discrimination against a juror of color.
North Carolina has lost a passionate and irreplaceable advocate. On Easter Sunday, renowned capital defense attorney and CDPL Board Vice-President Franklin E. Wells Jr. died suddenly at his home. He was 60. He left behind his wife, Gay, and their three daughters, Annah, Emily and Molly. Frank’s zealous advocacy helped save the lives of many clients, and he served as a teacher and mentor to capital attorneys across North Carolina. He served on CDPL’s board for more than a decade and was the winner of the J. Kirk Osborn Award. Please read our full tribute to Frank’s legacy.
CDPL is doing its part to help stop the spread of Covid-19. We have temporarily closed our office in downtown Durham, and all of our attorneys, investigators, and public education specialists are now working remotely. We have also temporarily ceased in-person client meetings to ensure that none of our staff carries the virus into a prison, where people are kept in confined spaces and are extraordinarily vulnerable to illness. However, CDPL is continuing to fight vigorously for the rights of our clients. Please click to read more about how CDPL is rising to this extraordinary moment.
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.