Established in early 1992 by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, Defender Services Division (now the Office of Defender Services), the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project (FDPRCP) is comprised of veteran capital defense attorneys. Created for the benefit of court-appointed CJA panel attorneys, federal defenders, and the judiciary, the Project serves as a national clearinghouse for information which might be helpful to defense counsel appointed in federal capital cases.
The Project monitors all federal death penalty cases and consults with counsel in areas ranging from the DOJ authorization process to developing mitigation and working with experts. Resource counsel responsibilities also include:
- Identification and recruitment of qualified defense counsel for possible appointment;
- Development of capital litigation training programs and materials to assist federal defenders and court-appointed private counsel;
- Responding to judicial inquiries concerning appointment of counsel, case budgeting, and the defense function in federal capital cases;
- Responding to Congressional inquiries directed to the federal defender system relating to proposed capital punishment legislation; and
- Maintaining a liaison between the federal public defender system and responsible officials of the Department of Justice regarding the administration of federal death penalty statutes.
The Project produces a vast array of materials related to defending federal capital prosecutions, beginning with the authorization process, available on the secure side of the Project’s website. The Project provides, for example, model pleadings on recurring issues such as defense funding, continuance, jury voir dire, discovery, government mental status exams, severance, penalty phase instructions, etc. These materials are made available at no cost to appointed counsel. Project attorneys also provide regular case telephone and on-site consultation as requested by appointed counsel.