Florida Center for Capital Representation at FIU Law
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.
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 the button below and select “College of Law Clinical Programs – The Florida Center Capital for Representation” as your designation.
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 based at the Florida Center for Capital Representation at Florida International University’s College of Law (FCCR). She is a dual qualified attorney (United Kingdom and USA – New York) with a license to practise as a mitigation specialist in Florida.
Hannah leads the FCCR’s state-wide research and assists legal teams with capital cases. In particular, she provides assistance with empirical evidence and data collection, jury selection, life history investigation and victim outreach. Hannah has extensive experience in representing foreign nationals and conducting in-field investigation overseas. She has worked on cases in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Oregon and Florida as well as in South East Asia and the Middle East. She also co-teaches the death penalty module and clinic at FIU with a special focus on international human rights 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 worked with the United Nations, European Union and various governments around the world on best consular practice for national detained overseas. 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), death row phenomena and the application of scientific principles in determining intellectual disability.
Eric R. Carpenter, Affiliated Scholar
Military law, death penalty litigation, sexual assault law and policy—Professor Eric Carpenter is a nationally-recognized expert. He routinely provides relevant, insightful, engaging, and unbiased commentary on these topics to the media, including The Today Show, CBS Radio, the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, the Associated Press, The Hill, and Stars & Stripes, to name a few.
More than a scholar and expert, he has lived and worked in the world of military justice. He served in the Army as a helicopter pilot and is a graduate of Ranger School and Airborne School. He was a judge advocate, serving as prosecutor, supervising defense counsel, and Chair of the Criminal Law Department at the Army’s law school. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2003. And as an elected member of the National Institute of Military Justice and the ABA’s Military Justice Committee, he writes influential articles on military justice system reform.
Not content to comment from the sidelines, he is still active in death penalty litigation. He is a consultant on the 9/11 commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and continues to advise judge advocates who defend service members in capital courts-martial. His experience is deep—while in the Army, he served as the lead defense attorney on a capital murder case and was part of the task force that wrote the current regulations for capital litigation in the Army. He is a member the National College of Capital Voir Dire and speaks regularly on this trial technique around the country. He has written several articles on how jurors view the death penalty.
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.
- Professor Harper Quoted in Orlando Sentinel on Florida Supreme Court and the Death Penalty
- Professor Harper quoted in the The Christian Science Monitor
- Professor Harper Awarded 2020 Juvenile Law Center’s Leadership Prize
- Professor Harper quoted in the Orlando Sentinel
- Professor Harper Quoted in Florida Phoeinx
- Professor Harper Quoted in the Miami Herald
- Professor Harper Interviewed by The Wall Street Journal and The Miami Herald
- Professor Stephen k. Harper Quoted in Florida Times-Union
- Prof. Harper Provides Insight on New Death Penalty Fix
- A final defense: FIU Law Clinic helps educate lawyers handling death penalty cases
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 305.348.7484.