American Bar Association


Who We Are

Welcome! The Death Penalty Committee works within the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice to deal with issues regarding how the death penalty works, on the need for moratoriums, legal reforms, and ABA policies and amicus briefs.

We are pleased to announce that the ABA Death Penalty Due Process Review Project and the University of Texas School of Law are hosting “40 Years After Gregg: A National Conference on the Death Penalty,” from March 31st to April 2nd, 2016 in Austin, Texas. This conference will bring together some of the nation’s leading capital punishment experts and practitioners to share their diverse perspectives, reflect on the dynamic history of capital punishment in the United States over the past 40 years, and discuss the issues impacting the law today. Join us for this unique opportunity to learn more about the complex contours of death penalty law and history, and hear from a diverse array of people whose work affects how this country uses and thinks about capital punishment.


Opinion Piece by Committee Chair, Ron Tabak

The State of Capital Punishment in 2016

Recent Developments in the Death Penalty

Kansas v. Carr
Holding: 1) The Eighth Amendment does not require capital-sentencing courts to instruct a jury that mitigating circumstances need not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. 2) The Constitution did not require severance of joint sentencing proceedings because the contention that the admission of mitigating evidence by one defendant could have "so infected" the jury's consideration of the other defendant's sentence as to amount to a denial of due process does not stand in light of all the evidence presented at the guilty and penalty phases relevant to the jury's sentencing determination.

Judgment: Reversed, 8-1, in an opinion by Justice Scalia on January 20, 2016. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion.

Hurst v. Florida
Holding: Florida's capital-sentencing scheme, in which a jury renders an “advisory sentence” but a judge must independently weigh the aggravating and mitigating factors before entering a sentence of life or death, violates the Sixth Amendment in light of the Court's decision in Ring v. Arizona, which deemed unconstitutional an Arizona capital sentencing scheme that permitted a judge rather than the jury to find the facts necessary to sentence a defendant to death.

Judgment: Reversed, 8-1, in an opinion by Justice Sotomayor on January 12, 2016. Justice Breyer filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Justice Alito filed a dissenting opinion.

Resolution on Re-entry Unanimously Passes the House of Delegates of NYSBA on Jan. 29, 2016

Ronald Tabak, Chair of Section Death Penalty Committee

Related ABA Policies

The Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice's Death Penalty Due Process Review Project has identified the ABA Policy related to capital punishment.

Policy Round Up

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Tabak, Ronald


Turberville, Sarah

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Programs, Meetings and Events

Committee Events

Prosecutorial Accountability in the Post-Connick v. Thompson Era: Reforms and Solutions

February 4, 2012
Prosecutors play a crucial role in the administration of justice, and rules concerning the performance of their important responsibilities should promote their respect for and compliance with the law. But twice in the past two years the alleged misconduct of the Orleans Parish District Attorney?s Office has been the subject of a case before the United States Supreme Court. This program brings together prosecutors, ethics experts, a former death row prisoner, and academics to discuss these important cases, whether and how prosecutors should be held accountable
for misconduct, and possible solutions and reforms which will help limit future misconduct.
Section Events

    Second Annual State of Voting Rights

    American Bar Association

    *Lunch will be provided Back by popular demand! The Second Annual State of Voting Rights luncheon will address the current state of voting rights and analyze new laws and attempts to restrict the right to vote. Panelists will cover everything from on-the-ground polling place issues to broader ...

    Ethics in Elder Law


    Ethics in Elder Law

    Conflicts of Interest: Guidelines for Every Lawyer's Success


    The event will be held on 07/20/2017. The format is Web. The event sponsor(s) are Center for Professional Development,Center For Professional Responsibility,Section of Dispute Resolution,Section of Family Law,Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division,Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division,Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section,Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice,Division for Public Services. The event has 1.50 CLE Credits .

Modified by Paula Shapiro on April 6, 2017

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