Karen M. Gottlieb
Co-Director of the Florida Center for Capital Representation
B.A., Emory University (High Honors)
With almost 40 years’ experience as an appellate lawyer, the first 15 of which were spent in the appellate division of the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s office, Gottlieb focuses on capital cases and cases in which juveniles have been sentenced to mandatory life imprisonment. She has represented criminal defendants in more than 250 appeals and extraordinary writs in Florida and federal courts, and on certiorari petitions in the Supreme Court of the United States.
Gottlieb is the former chair of the Florida Public Defenders’ Capital Litigation Steering Committee, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Capital Resource Center since 2013. She has lectured on effective appellate advocacy and various death-penalty topics for the Florida Public Defenders’ Association, the Florida Bar, the Dade County Bar Association, the South Carolina Bar Association, the Florida Conference of Circuit Court Judges, the St. Thomas Law Review Symposium, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Vermont Law School Capital Punishment Symposium.
For the past four years, Gottlieb has been a member of the amicus committee of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense. She currently serves as the committee’s co-chair, and has authored numerous amicus briefs in capital cases in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States, and on other ground-breaking criminal-law issues in the Florida District Courts of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
In 2015, Gottlieb filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States on behalf of former Supreme Court of Florida Justices in Hurst v. Florida, in which the Court granted certiorari to consider whether Florida’s capital punishment system violates the Sixth or Eighth Amendments to the Constitution. Also in 2015, Gottlieb successfully represented Rebecca Falcon in the Supreme Court of Florida, establishing that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama must be applied retroactively to preclude a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for juvenile homicide defendants. This decision will require the re-sentencing of more than 200 Florida children who were sentenced to lifetime incarceration.
Gottlieb has co-authored chapters on capital litigation for the Florida Public Defenders’ Death Penalty Manual and on appellate procedure for The Florida Bar’s Appellate Practice Treatise. She is a recipient of the ACLU’s Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award for her death-penalty work and the President’s Service Award from the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Miami-Dade Chapter, for her amicus briefs. She is a member of the Rosemary Barkett Inn of Court and is listed on the Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Prominent Women Lawyers.