(Originally published in the New York Law Journal on October 27, 2016)
A new center at Cornell Law School aims to help eliminate the death penalty across the globe through research and lawyer training.
The school on Tuesday announced the launch of the Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide—an initiative made possible by a $3.2 million grant from the Atlantic Philanthropies, the private foundation of university alum Chuck Feeney, founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group.
The center, led by Cornell professor Sandra Babcock, aspires to help end capital punishment internationally by highlighting the flaws in the application of the death penalty worldwide, and by strengthening the training of defense lawyers who handle such cases. Administrators say it's the first center of its kind in the United States. A handful of schools have domestic-focused death penalty centers or death penalty clinics, including the University of Texas School of Law; Yale Law School; Harvard Law School; and the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. The new center will elevate the international death penalty research Cornell Law faculty started in 2011.
"I think this is the right moment for a center like this to explicitly focus on the convergence of national and international [death penalty abolition] movements and fill in the gaps in the research that's being down around the world," Babcock said.
The centerpiece of the initiative is a summer institute for capital defense lawyers around the world to convene and share notes on effective defense strategies. The first institute will convene death penalty defense lawyers from sub-Saharan Africa, where the judicial system is plagued by a lack of resources, Babcock said. Future conferences will focus on other regions. "The resources available to lawyers around the world who are working on these issues is really nonexistent," she said. [continued]
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