Death Penalty Clinic

The Death Penalty Clinic is a one semester clinical course offered for four credits. Students in this clinic will be involved in actual death penalty cases under the direct supervision of Professor Stephen K. Harper. They will be assisting court-appointed defense counsel(s) in gathering documents, interviewing witnesses and clients, analysis of discovery, investigations, legal research, drafting pleadings and memoranda, assisting with strategic decisions and in developing integrated theories of defense.

This course will involve students working on actual death penalty cases under the direct supervision of a clinical professor and a lawyer representing a client with a capital case. Students will assist in investigations, interviewing clients and witnesses, gathering documents, legal research, drafting pleadings and also assist with strategic decisions and in developing integrated theories of defense. The emphasis will be on making a case for life. Students will have acquired a basic understanding of the many ways in which “death is different.” They will have obtained knowledge of the basic components of death penalty litigation and the many additional skills necessary to represent a client. They will have mastered the theories of defense and mitigation and understand the critical importance of integrating the first and second phases of a capital case. Students will have an appreciation of the many issues, techniques and priorities unique to death penalty litigation and the many differences between non­capital and capital cases. They will also come away having acquired many basic litigation skills such as legal writing, research, fact investigation and integrating themes.

  • Credits: Four graded credits
  • Time Commitment:  Average 14 hours a week (minimum 196 hours for the semester) which includes case work, supervision and seminar.
  • Faculty: Stephen K. Harper
  • Prerequisite:  45 credits and Death Penalty Law
  • Pre- or Co- Requisite: Professional Responsibility
  • Certified Legal Intern Certification Required: Not required