Amicus- Assisting Lawyers For Justice on Death Row

Amicus- Assisting Lawyers For Justice on Death Row

Charity information

Amicus- Assisting Lawyers For Justice on Death Row

The objects of the charity are to promote the relief of suffering and distress to those persons and families of those persons who are awaiting execution in any state of the United States of America, and who for reason of their poverty are in need of legal or other assistance to ensure the preservation of their rights of appeal and to ensure that their imprisonment and sentence are administered as far as is possible humanely.

It is an unfortunate fact that in US capital trials justice often sides against the poor. Defendants who do not have the financial means to hire their own legal defence (which constitutes the vast majority of those facing the death penalty) are provided with a state funded attorney, which sounds fair in theory but can create an asymmetry in the quality of representation in practice. State-funded defence attorneys are typically paid a lot less than they would normally get in low profile cases; in one case the defendant’s representative was paid a measly $11. 84 an hour. Defence attorneys are often working on several different cases at once and they obliged to spend correspondingly more time on clients who have paid more money for their services, preventing them from compiling adequate defences. Taken together with the fact that the state prosecution’s war chest is extremely well funded, we can hardly say that the defendant is being given a fair trial.

Amicus aims to assist attorneys representing defendants awaiting capital trial and punishment in the United States and raise awareness of potential abuses of the defendant’s rights. We achieve this by training and placing interns alongside US attorneys and performing supportive casework. The value of these interns cannot be underestimated; in interviewing witnesses, providing essential office assistance and supporting defendants they allow attorneys to compile a case that the defendant deserves.

Amicus hopes to raise £60,000 in order to train and strategically place an extra 25 interns at understaffed district attorney offices working on capital defence cases. The money will go towards the travel, accommodation and maintenance fees of each intern. Their hard work helps to re balance the scales of justice, an ideal worth any price.

Our 'Without Prejudice' project, implemented in conjunction with University College London, may have ramifications on US death penalty policy if successful. If violations of international human rights standards against minority groups are substantiated, governments, international organisations and NGOs can effectively argue the case of racism as a human rights violation in regards to the administration of the death penalty.

Capital convictions can then be challenged on these grounds in federal courts or via application to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) by identifying instances of human rights violations.

We are leading a project, in conjunction with Allen and Overy and the Law Society, to draft applications to the IACHR which stress the injustice in death row sentencing. Our goal is to attract attention to the improper use of the law and the breaches of the American Declaration of Human Rights and Duties of a Man, which may result either in exonerations from the death penalty or at least stop the use of the death penalty as a sentence in particular instances.

Founded 1992