American Bar Association Guidelines

ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases (2003) (31 Hofstra L. Rev. 913)

The ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases ("ABA Guidelines"), last updated and promulgated in 2003, set forth a national standard of practice for the defense of capital cases in order to ensure high quality legal representation for all persons facing or convicted of death penalty offenses. Starting with the arrest of the defendant, the ABA Guidelines apply to representation at all stages of every case, including initial and ongoing investigation, pretrial proceedings, trial, post-conviction review, clemency proceedings, and any connected litigation. The ABA Guidelines have been cited with approval by courts around the country and should be read by every defense practitioner handling a capital case. 

Supplementary Guidelines for the Mitigation Function of Defense Teams in Death Penalty Cases (2008)  (36 Hofstra L. Rev. 677)

This supplement to the 2003 ABA Guidelines articulates interdisciplinary performance standards to ensure that all members of the defense team perform in accordance with prevailing national norms when representing a death-eligible or capitally-convicted defendant. The Supplementary Guidelines were developed in close cooperation with the ABA's Death Penalty Representation Project, but unlike the ABA Guidelines, they were not submitted to the ABA House of Delegates. However, both the ABA and the Supplementary Guidelines are cited in the Strategic Plan for the Defender Services Program, so counsel appointed in capital cases in federal courts are expected to comply with both the ABA Guidelines and the Supplementary Guidelines.