Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel & Capital Resource Counsel

The Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project (FDPRCP) is a program of the Defender Services Office of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AOUSC) designed to assist the federal courts, federal defenders, and appointed counsel in connection with matters relating to the defense function in federal capital cases at the trial level. Capital Resource Counsel (CRC) serve as full-time assistant federal defenders with the principal responsibility of focusing on federal capital cases assigned to federal defender organizations, including training their staff, consulting on cases, and serving as co-counsel in a limited number of cases.

Since early 1992, the Project has monitored all federal death penalty cases and has collected information which might be useful to both lawyers and judges involved in federal capital cases. The Project assists trial counsel with telephone consultation, identification of experts, mitigation specialists and investigators, legal research, drafting pleadings, instructions, and on-site assistance before and during capital trials. The Project is also available to respond to inquiries from the courts regarding the defense function in federal capital prosecutions. The Project has also been involved with:

  • identification and recruitment of defense counsel "learned in the law applicable to capital cases" for possible appointment under 18 U.S.C. Section 3005;
  • assisting the Defender Services Office, AOUSC, in responding to judicial inquiries concerning the defense function, case management, and case budgeting in federal capital cases;
  • development of capital litigation training programs and materials to assist federal defenders and court-appointed private counsel;
  • responding to Congressional inquiries directed to the federal defender system concerning proposed capital punishment legislation, and
  • maintaining a liaison between the federal public defender system and the Department of Justice regarding the administration of federal death penalty statutes.

Federal Capital Appellate Resource Counsel

Federal Capital Appellate Resource Counsel recruits, trains, consults with, and otherwise assists attorneys appointed to federal death-penalty appeals; provides direct representation in a limited number of such appeals; and coordinates with FDPRC, CRC, and the 2255 Project to advise capital trial lawyers on certain legal issues.

National Mitigation Coordinator

The National Mitigation Coordinator provides mitigation assistance to CJA panel attorneys, the courts, and federal defenders in identifying mitigation specialists, providing referrals to capital  counsel in capital habeas and capital prosecution cases, participating in mitigation training programs, and consulting with defense teams who need guidance in relation to mitigation.

Defense Victim Outreach Coordinator

The Victim Outreach Coordinator provides victim outreach assistance to federal capital cases nationwide, assisting Federal Defender offices, FDPRC, CRC, 2254 & 2255 projects by consulting, providing referrals of victim liaisons, conducting victim outreach trainings and continuing to educate capital defense attorneys about the values and principles of defense-initiated victim outreach.

Life Support Project

The Life Support Project assists capital defense teams in working with clients who are reluctant to have mitigation investigated, reluctant to seek life sentences, or reluctant to take plea bargains for sentences less than death.  Staffed by Wilbert Rideau and five other carefully selected people -- all of whom have faced capital charges, somehow gotten life sentences, made meaningful lives serving time in prison, and gotten out and stayed out – the project has already, in less than two years, succeeded in helping clients choose life paths in virtually every case in which it has been involved.