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BASF First to Support ACLU's Death Penalty Guidelines Resolution in California

April 4, 2008 -- The Board of Directors of The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) voted to support a resolution calling for every California jurisdiction seeking a sentence of death to comply with American Bar Association Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases (ABA Guidelines).

The resolution, authored by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), passed with unanimous approval during a BASF board meeting on March 19, 2008, making BASF the first bar association in the state to support the measure.

According to BASF President James Donato, a partner at Cooley Godward Kronish, LLP, "The ABA Guidelines are essential for the fair administration of justice in death penalty cases. Our board is privileged to be the first bar association in California to call for the implementation of the ABA Guidelines in our state. We urge the State Bar and the Judicial Council to adopt them and monitor their application."

The United States Supreme Court has recognized the ABA as the appropriate standard of care for attorneys representing defendants in death penalty cases. The ABA Guidelines provide, for example, that jurisdictions seeking execution must ensure that each death penalty case is staffed by two experienced and qualified attorneys, an investigator and a trained mitigation specialist. The guidelines also require that jurisdictions pay attorneys hourly, for the work they actually do, rather than using flat fees or capped payment systems.

More than 50 federal court decisions and more than two dozen state court decisions cite the ABA Guidelines. The Texas Bar Association, the Supreme Court of Arizona and the Supreme Court of Nevada have adopted guidelines similar or nearly identical to the ABA Guidelines.

The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is a nonprofit voluntary membership organization of over 8,000 attorneys, law students and legal professionals in the Bay Area. Founded in 1872, BASF is one of the largest and most dynamic metropolitan bar associations in the U.S., with a long and distinguished record of community action, public service and service to the legal profession.

Questions about media relations, BASF issues currently in the news, San Francisco Attorney magazine, marketing and communications:

Ann Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8792

For general communications inquiries:

Sayre Happich, Assistant Director of Communications & Public Relations
(415) 782-9000 x8104