The Center for Death Penalty Litigation is a non-profit law firm that provides direct representation to inmates on North Carolina’s death row, as well as consulting with and training attorneys who practice capital litigation across the state. CDPL’s commitment to representing indigent and disadvantaged defendants just as vigorously as corporate lawyers defend their highest-paying clients has saved the lives of many who faced execution. In addition to representing individual clients, CDPL spearheads litigation that addresses systemic injustices and educates the public about the death penalty. CDPL has been a leading force in dramatically reducing the number of executions in North Carolina, and has cast light on the arbitrariness and unfairness of our state’s capital punishment system.
Ken retired this month from CDPL, where he had worked since 1996 and earned his reputation as one of North Carolina’s most respected and visionary death penalty defense attorneys. During his 35-year career in North Carolina, Ken never lost the idealism or the passion that has driven him since his earliest days. He never stopped being surprised — and outraged — at injustice. He never stopped plotting to outwit the machinery of death. And he never stopped representing every client as if both of their lives depended on it.
In 2016, North Carolina passed the decade mark without an execution, tried just five people capitally in all 100 counties, and of those five, sent only one person to death row. As another year ends, North Carolina continues to reflect national trends, which clearly show the death penalty on the decline. Yet, despite the death penalty’s fade, North Carolina continues to cling to one relic of the death penalty’s past. With 150 men and women awaiting execution, North Carolina has the sixth largest death row in the nation — and most were sentenced more than 15 years ago.
CDPL is proud to announce that Lisa Dubs received the 2016 J. Kirk Osborn Award for outstanding work on behalf of indigent clients facing the death penalty. Lisa is renowned for protecting innocent clients from conviction, and for securing life sentences in even the most challenging capital cases. She has won an amazing five acquittals in first-degree murder trials, along with many more dismissals. She accepted her award at a reception on October 6. Lisa says she makes sure every client, and every jury, knows how deeply she cares about her clients.
Learn more about the death penalty. For a fuller listing, go to our Links page:
- N.C. Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
- N.C. Advocates for Justice
- Death Penalty Information Center
See Our Impact
CDPL’s staff has halted wrongful executions, helped free innocent people from death row, and exposed systemic injustices. Learn more about the work that has made CDPL a leader in addressing unfairness in capital punishment.