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April 6, 2006

Press Contact:
Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, 512-471-7330.
Event Contacts: Professor Rob Owen, UT Law, (512) 232-9391, or Professor Jordan Steiker, UT Law, (512) 232-1346 .

UT Law Creates Capital Punishment Center and Expands Programs Relating to the Death Penalty

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas School of Law has created a Capital Punishment Center (CPC) that will combine and expand the school’s academic and clinical programs on the death penalty. A reception celebrating the inauguration of the Center will be held in the Law School’s Jamail Pavilion at 5 p.m. on Thurs., April 6.

UT Law Interim Dean Steven Goode, Judge Charlie Baird (formerly of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and currently a candidate for District Judge), and American University professor and humane rights defense attorney Mike Tigar will speak at the reception about the significance of the new Center.

“The Capital Punishment Clinic has provided both an extraordinary educational experience for our students and excellent representation for death-row inmates,” Dean Goode said. “With the establishment of the Capital Punishment Center, the Law School will be able to take a leading role in the academic study of the death penalty as well,” he said.

The Center will be co-directed by UT Law professors Rob Owen and Jordan Steiker, who have worked together with clinic students for more than a decade on capital punishment cases. The Capital Punishment Clinic has had numerous successes over the years, including two victories in the United States Supreme Court.

“The Center will provide a terrific opportunity for sustained study of the death penalty. “It will also expand our students’ involvement in complex capital litigation,” Steiker said. “There is an obvious need in Texas for high quality representation for indigent death-sentenced inmates. The Center’s goal is to train lawyers who will have both a deep understanding of the theory and history of the American death penalty and an appreciation of the intricacies of death penalty litigation in the state and federal courts,” Owen added.

Steiker noted that under the Center’s structure, the clinical program will be expanded with the hiring of Jim Marcus, who currently is the executive director of the Texas Defender Service, the premier non-profit providing representation (both directly and through consultation) to indigent death-sentenced inmates. “Marcus is an outstanding litigator who recently led the team in the Miller-El saga which resulted in two wins in the U.S. Supreme Court and ultimately reversal of his conviction in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals,” Steiker said.

Marcus joins Owen, clinical faculty member Maurie Levin, an experienced death penalty lawyer, and clinical faculty member Meredith Rountree, an attorney, as a supervising attorney within the clinical component of the Center. The Center is also expanding its course offerings to students. Currently, there are four classes relating to the death penalty, including a new class on mental health issues and the death penalty.

Related Links:
Capital Punishment Center Inaugural Reception Program: http://www.utexas.edu/law/news/2006/cpc_opening.pdf
Maurie Levin: http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/ml4477/
Rob Owen: http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/owenrc/
Meredith Rountree: http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/mr3688/
Jordan Steiker: http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/jsteiker/