(a) In general

The Attorney General shall award grants to States for the purpose of improving the quality of legal representation provided to indigent defendants in State capital cases.

(b) Defined term

Terms Used In 34 USC 60301

  • Appellate: About appeals; an appellate court has the power to review the judgement of another lower court or tribunal.
  • association: when used in reference to a corporation, shall be deemed to embrace the words "successors and assigns of such company or association" in like manner as if these last-named words, or words of similar import, were expressed. See
  • Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
  • Litigation: A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.
  • Public defender: Represent defendants who can't afford an attorney in criminal matters.
  • State: means any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, or any political subdivision of any of the foregoing. See
  • Statute: A law passed by a legislature.
  • Trial: A hearing that takes place when the defendant pleads "not guilty" and witnesses are required to come to court to give evidence.

In this section, the term “legal representation” means legal counsel and investigative, expert, and other services necessary for competent representation.

(c) Use of funds

Grants awarded under subsection (a)–

(1) shall be used to establish, implement, or improve an effective system for providing competent legal representation to–

(A) indigents charged with an offense subject to capital punishment;

(B) indigents who have been sentenced to death and who seek appellate or collateral relief in State court; and

(C) indigents who have been sentenced to death and who seek review in the Supreme Court of the United States; and


(2) shall not be used to fund, directly or indirectly, representation in specific capital cases.

(d) Apportionment of funds

(1) In general

Of the funds awarded under subsection (a)–

(A) not less than 75 percent shall be used to carry out the purpose described in subsection (c)(1)(A); and

(B) not more than 25 percent shall be used to carry out the purpose described in subsection (c)(1)(B).

(2) Waiver

The Attorney General may waive the requirement under this subsection for good cause shown.

(e) Effective system

As used in subsection (c)(1), an effective system for providing competent legal representation is a system that–

(1) invests the responsibility for appointing qualified attorneys to represent indigents in capital cases–

(A) in a public defender program that relies on staff attorneys, members of the private bar, or both, to provide representation in capital cases;

(B) in an entity established by statute or by the highest State court with jurisdiction in criminal cases, which is composed of individuals with demonstrated knowledge and expertise in capital cases, except for individuals currently employed as prosecutors; or

(C) pursuant to a statutory procedure enacted before October 30, 2004, under which the trial judge is required to appoint qualified attorneys from a roster maintained by a State or regional selection committee or similar entity; and


(2) requires the program described in paragraph (1)(A), the entity described in paragraph (1)(B), or an appropriate entity designated pursuant to the statutory procedure described in paragraph (1)(C), as applicable, to–

(A) establish qualifications for attorneys who may be appointed to represent indigents in capital cases;

(B) establish and maintain a roster of qualified attorneys;

(C) except in the case of a selection committee or similar entity described in paragraph (1)(C), assign 2 attorneys from the roster to represent an indigent in a capital case, or provide the trial judge a list of not more than 2 pairs of attorneys from the roster, from which 1 pair shall be assigned, provided that, in any case in which the State elects not to seek the death penalty, a court may find, subject to any requirement of State law, that a second attorney need not remain assigned to represent the indigent to ensure competent representation;

(D) conduct, sponsor, or approve specialized training programs for attorneys representing defendants in capital cases;

(E)(i) monitor the performance of attorneys who are appointed and their attendance at training programs; and

(ii) remove from the roster attorneys who–

(I) fail to deliver effective representation or engage in unethical conduct;

(II) fail to comply with such requirements as such program, entity, or selection committee or similar entity may establish regarding participation in training programs; or

(III) during the past 5 years, have been sanctioned by a bar association or court for ethical misconduct relating to the attorney’s conduct as defense counsel in a criminal case in Federal or State court; and


(F) ensure funding for the cost of competent legal representation by the defense team and outside experts selected by counsel, who shall be compensated–

(i) in the case of a State that employs a statutory procedure described in paragraph (1)(C), in accordance with the requirements of that statutory procedure; and

(ii) in all other cases, as follows:

(I) Attorneys employed by a public defender program shall be compensated according to a salary scale that is commensurate with the salary scale of the prosecutor’s office in the jurisdiction.

(II) Appointed attorneys shall be compensated for actual time and service, computed on an hourly basis and at a reasonable hourly rate in light of the qualifications and experience of the attorney and the local market for legal representation in cases reflecting the complexity and responsibility of capital cases.

(III) Non-attorney members of the defense team, including investigators, mitigation specialists, and experts, shall be compensated at a rate that reflects the specialized skills needed by those who assist counsel with the litigation of death penalty cases.

(IV) Attorney and non-attorney members of the defense team shall be reimbursed for reasonable incidental expenses.