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Legal Representation
In the United States, there are hundreds of people on death rows facing the possibility of execution without legal representation. When the United States imposes the death penalty, it often operates capriciously and irresponsibly, frequently overlooking serious flaws in legal proceedings. The result is an enormous need for competent lawyers to assist death row inmates with their post-conviction appeals. In response to this enormous need, The Advocates' Death Penalty Project recruited and trained more than 100 volunteer attorneys and paralegals to handle cases for death row inmates in need of legal representation. Due to lack of funding sources for death penalty work, The Advocates has not taken any new cases of indigent death row inmates since 1996.  Project volunteers had a number of successes.

Albert Burrell: In 1991, after several Lindquist & Vennum attorneys attended a The Advocates for Humans Rights event designed to recruit lawyers to work on death penalty cases, their firm undertook the legal representation of Albert Burrell, an indigent Louisiana man who had been convicted of double homicide in 1987. After examining the files, interviewing witnesses and analyzing the evidence the attorneys because convinced that Mr. Burrell and his co-defendant were innocent.  Over the next ten years, Lindquist & Vennum worked on Burrell’s case – obtaining a stay of execution just seventeen days before he was to have been put to death, receiving an award of investigative funds from the court, and eventually securing Mr. Burrell’s complete exoneration.  In 2000, confronted by the evidence uncovered by Lindquist & Vennum, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office conducted a thorough investigation of the case against Mr. Burrell and his co-defendant and determined that there was a total lack of credible evidence linking either to the murders.  The State joined Lindquist & Vennum in moving the court for an order setting aside Mr. Burrell’s conviction and death sentence.  In January of 2001, Mr. Burrell walked out of prison a free man.

Ernest Busby:  Mr. Busby was represented by attorneys at Dorsey & Whitney. After spending much of his youth institutionalized for mental health problems, Mr. Busby shot a friend while the two were on a hunting trip.  After his arrest, Mr. Busby’s requests for an attorney were ignored and he eventually confessed to the killing.  Mr. Busby was convicted and sentenced to death in 1984 after a short hearing where the only evidence was the defendant’s testimony and confession.  After direct and collateral appeals in state court, Mr. Busby’s death sentence was overturned in 1988 by the state supreme court on the ground of ineffective assistance of counsel at the penalty phase.

Martin Allen Draughon: Mr. Draughon was released from a