Florida Center for Capital Representation at FIU Law

Introduction

Florida Center for Capital Representation (FCCR) at Florida International University College of Law was founded in 2014 to support defense attorneys representing defendants facing the death penalty in Florida. To that end, FCCR provides free case-consultation and litigation-support services, as well as capital-litigation training programs, to defense attorneys and mitigation specialists across the State. With a strong emphasis on developing mitigation to obtain death-penalty waivers and pleas, FCCR seeks to train and assist capital defense teams in resolving cases short of a death sentence.

With decades of combined experience representing Florida’s capital defendants at all levels, FCCR staff understand the unique characteristics and challenges associated with capital representation in Florida, offering defense teams consultation services and direct assistance in the following areas:

  • Mitigation & Litigation Strategy
  • Mitigation/Waiver Letters & Packages
  • Plea Negotiations
  • Voir Dire Techniques
  • Motion Practice
  • Jury Instructions
  • Mental Health and Other Clinical Issues
  • Referrals to Appropriate Experts
  • Capital Litigation Training

Capital defense teams are strongly encouraged to contact FCCR as early in the representation as possible.

To initiate a case-consultation with Florida Center for Capital Representation,  complete this form, or contact Stephen K. Harper at 305.348.7215 or via email.

Giving

The Florida Center for Capital Representation relies on donations and a foundation grant to carry out its work. Your contribution is critical to our efforts to improve the quality of lawyering  in death penalty cases.

If you would like to give to the FCCR, please click HERE and select “College of Law Clinical Programs – The Florida Center Capital for Representation” as your designation.

If you have any questions regarding giving to the FCCR, please contact Joseph Corey, Associate Director of Development, FIU Law.

FCCR Staff

Stephen K. Harper, Executive Director

For 29 years, Stephen K. Harper worked at the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office, serving the last 17 as Co-coordinator of the Capital Litigation Unit where he was primarily responsible for the gathering and presentation of mitigation evidence in capital cases. From 1989-1995, Mr. Harper served as the Chief of the Juvenile Division. In 2002, he took a two-year leave of absence to coordinate the Juvenile Death Penalty Initiative, a project culminating with his oversight of the drafting and filing of amicus curiae briefs in Roper v. Simmons.

Mr. Harper has lectured nationally and internationally on both juvenile and death penalty issues. He worked on the American Bar Association’s Guidelines Advisory Committee and participated in the revision of the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases. Mr. Harper also consulted with and advised the military defense team in a case involving a child soldier in Guantanamo under the Military Commissions Act, United States v. Omar Ahmed Khadr, as well as in the death-penalty cases of Abdul Kabir v. Quarterman and Brewer v. Quarterman, important decisions relating to the presentation of mitigation evidence in capital trials.

 

Roseanne Eckert, Juvenile Project Coordinator

Hannah Gorman, Visiting Scholar & Attorney (UK)

Hannah Gorman is a research scholar and UK attorney based at the Florida Center for Capital Representation at Florida International University’s College of Law (FCCR). She leads the FCCR’s state-wide research and assists legal teams with capital cases at pre-trial stage. She also co-teaches on the death penalty module and clinic with a special focus on international law.

Hannah was formerly associate director of the Centre for Human Rights at Birmingham City University, UK where she co-directed/founded the law school’s pro bono clinic. She previously practised as a solicitor-advocate in criminal and public law (right to education; property rights of indigenous tribes; right to life; right to freedom of religion; right not to be subjected to torture) in the UK and spent time in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Oregon working on capital cases. More recently, Hannah worked in South-East Asia and the Middle East focusing on similar types of cases. She worked with the United Nations, European Union, foreign governments and local legal teams to provide effective assistance to those facing the death penalty around the world. She has also drafted and co-ordinated the filing of amicus briefs on various key issues such as juvenile sentencing (Graham & Sullivan v. Florida; Miller v. Alabama; Jackson v. Arkansas).

Hannah remains particularly interested in the issue of consular protection, diplomatic actions and international institutional response to the issue of human rights/crime as well as the role of the jury, mitigation and restorative justice within criminal proceedings. She continues to consult on consular and legal assistance in respect of foreign nationals detained overseas.

FCCR Research

The Florida Center for Capital Representation commissioned Public Policy Polling to conduct a survey of Florida Registered Voters during the first week of February 2016.

The objective was to ascertain public sentiment regarding the necessity of unanimous jury decision prior to someone being sentenced to death.

Read the survey findings.

Florida Juvenile Resentencing and Review Project

The United States Supreme Court held in Graham v. Florida (2010) and Miller v. Alabama (2012) that children may not be sentenced to life without parole without taking in consideration the unique characteristics of youth. In 2014, Florida lawmakers passed legislation requiring individualized sentencing hearings for juveniles who are facing life in prison. The legislation also provides for eventual judicial review of the sentence in lieu of parole. In 2015, Florida Supreme Court decided in Falcon v. State that Miller must be retroactively applied. There are nearly a thousand juveniles in Florida who are serving life or de facto life sentences who are now entitled to be re-sentenced.

The Florida Resentencing and Review Project at the FIU College of Law was created with the goal of ensuring that each juvenile in the State of Florida who is either already serving or subject to adult sanctions receives a robust and comprehensive defense. The focus of the Project is to provide consultation and training for attorneys who are representing juveniles in the adult system, collect data in the wake of the decisions in Miller and Graham, and advise on policy and legislation affecting juveniles who are subject to prosecution as adults. The Project is supervised by Stephen K. Harper, Executive Director of the FCCR, and funded by the Vital Projects Fund.

Roseanne Eckert, board certified criminal trial lawyer and former capital post-conviction attorney, is the Coordinating Attorney for the Project. Ms. Eckert moderates a listserv called Juvenile Sentencing Advocates and is available for free training and individual case consultations. You may reach her at reckert@fiu.edu or 305.348.7484.

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