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June 08, 2001

Primavera: State Needs Better Cap Case Representation


Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Carl S. Primavera today called for the creation of a Pennsylvania Capital Representation Resource Center to represent defendants in capital cases. Speaking on behalf of the state's largest local bar association, Primavera said: "This is not about whether one approves or disapproves of the death penalty. This is all about providing fair, just and adequate representation in the name of justice. It is about due process."

The Chancellor pointed out that both pro- and anti-death penalty legislators approved the $614,000 appropriation for the training of defense attorneys in death penalty cases. Part of that funding has now been released by Governor Tom Ridge so that the Capital Habeas Corpus Unit of the federal public defenders office can take part in a defense attorney training program. Primavera thanked the Governor for the release of the funds and asked the General Assembly to approve Senate Bill 869 which would establish a Capital Representation Resource Center in the Commonwealth and provide for its duties and responsibilities. The Chancellor commended Senator Stewart Greenleaf, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and others for "their continuing efforts to move this legislation along." Primavera said that "with the death penalty very much in the news, we ought to focus on the overwhelming power that it grants to our justice system and our public officials. There is no better time than now to take action that will ensure both representation and due process."

The Philadelphia Bar Association joined with a Joint Task Force of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in calling for the creation of a Capital Case Resource Center in 1993. Since then, the Association has joined with the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the American Bar Association in urging a moratorium on the imposition of the death penalty until just and adequate representation can be assured.

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