Louisiana Capital Assistance Center

 



 Louisiana
 Capital
 Assistance
 Center
  A Non-Profit Law Office


 
 
Contact Us:

 636 Baronne Street
 New Orleans La 70113  USA
 Ph. +1 (504) 558 9867
 Fax. +1 (504) 558 0378
 
info@thejusticecenter.org


 

 

Our Work

 

 

Trial level representation

The LCAC represents indigent individuals who are charged with capital crimes in Louisiana at the trial level, in both state and federal court. The LCAC strives to begin representation of these individuals at the first possible opportunity post-offense so as not to lose the chance to assert critical rights and preserve relevant evidence; the LCAC has developed a vigorous pre-indictment advocacy practice.
The LCAC has also developed a thorough and exacting motions practice, involving the filing of dozens of motions, the holding of multiple evidentiary hearings regarding both critical evidence in the case and the fairness of the criminal justice system, and the filing of multiple applications for supervisory writs (interlocutory appeals) with appellate courts.
Our representation at trial is client-centered, focused on our clients’ needs and expressed desires and the manner in which our clients view and understand their own cases. We respect our client’s autonomy regarding the conduct of their case.

Investigation and Mitigation

Our representation includes an exhaustive and creative investigation of the crime charged, the criminal justice procedures to which our client is subject, our client’s entire life history, and any other factors that may conceivably be mitigating in the case.
Mitigation investigation is specific to capital cases. A death penalty trial contains two phases: the guilt phase, where the jury is asked to determine guilt or innocence, and then a separate penalty phase should the jury return with a guilty verdict. During the penalty phase, defense attorneys are permitted to present mitigating evidence to show why their client should not be sentenced to death.
An investigation of a capital defendant's life almost always reveals a history of trauma, deprivation, abuse, and/or mental disability. LCAC attorneys and investigators have developed an expertise in mitigation investigation, which includes issues as far-flung as environmental toxins, the history of racist practices in particular geographic areas, and the failure of governmental agencies in relation to our clients and their families.

Appellate and Post-conviction representation

Besides trial-level representation, the LCAC also represents indigent clients on direct appeal in the Louisiana Supreme Court, in state post-conviction proceedings (in Texas and Mississippi), and in federal habeas proceedings following both state and federal death sentences. Pursuing all of these forms of representation simultaneously means that the office stays abreast of problems across the capital system. We are also able to use our understanding of federal habeas law to inform our own trial practice and our consultation with other trial and appellate practitioners.

Consultation and training

The LCAC also acts as a resource office, consulting with public defenders handling capital cases around Louisiana. It has assisted dozens of lawyers in the region at every stage, particularly in those parishes where the death penalty is used most aggressively. The LCAC assists with case theory development, pre-trial litigation, jury selection, Atkins litigation, penalty phase preparation, and mid-trial writ writing.
LCAC lawyers also conduct frequent trainings for capital counsel around the state. Recent trainings have focused on jury selection, defending parents accused of killing their children, Capital Jury Project data, competency determinations, Atkins v. Virginia, eyewitness identification expert testimony, ballistics, and mitigation.
The LCAC also authors reports, studies and manuals for the benefit of those practicing criminal law or working in the field of criminal justice policy.

Impact litigation and advocacy

In addition to its direct representation and consult work, the LCAC pursues individual legal issues and projects designed to have a broader impact on capital litigation. Currently these issues include racial discrimination in jury selection, racial discrimination in charging practices, and litigation regarding the intellectually disabled, seriously mentally ill, and those defendants not competent to stand trial.

 

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