Who Am I?
My name is Eloise Emanuel, I’m a lawyer in the UK and in early 2013 I’ll be travelling to Texas on behalf of the charity Amicus ALJ to provide assistance to those facing the death penalty in the United States.
Amicus is a small legal charity which helps provide representation for those facing the death penalty in the United States. They were founded in 1992 in memory of Andrew Lee Jones, who was executed by the state of Louisiana in 1991.
Amicus believe the death penalty is disproportionately imposed on the most vulnerable in society, violating their right to due process and the concept of equal justice before the law. Amicus’ mission is to provide better access to justice for those who could not otherwise afford it. The quality of representation in a capital trial is literally a matter of life and death. Capital defence lawyers in the US are generally overworked and underpaid. There is no comprehensive legal aid system, and defence attorneys are paid very little. For example, in the state of Alabama, a defence attorney may be paid as little as $1,000 to conduct a capital trial, which could last weeks and even months. By comparison, the prosecuting attorney is likely to receive ten times as much. There is no minimum level of experience required in order to defend a capital trial; some are woefully inexperienced and a significant number of US citizens have gone to their deaths because of poor legal representation.
“People who are well represented at trial do not get the death penalty.”
US Supreme Court Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, April 2001
They are, however, not a campaigning organisation. Amicus believe they can make the greatest difference through active involvement in frontline work, in particular, by sending interns like me to the US.
Every year Amicus train and place around 20 interns with capital defenders offices in the US. These interns provide an invaluable resource for the over-worked lawyers and carry out work that would simply not get done without them.
The work allocated to interns is varied and diverse. It can vary from the mundane (photocopying, summarizing court documents, etc.) to the challenging and complex, for example interviewing various people connected to the case, speaking with the client in prison, tracing individuals and carrying out legal research.
What all the work has in common, is that it all contributes to protecting the legal rights of the client concerned.
The work also varies from office to office; some offices are focussed more on pre-trial work and during the preparation for trial, interns may be working on mitigation for the client or legal research. In offices more focussed on appeals, the work may involve more one-to-one work such as interviewing witnesses or others involved in the case or the defendant themselves.
“Amicus has sent scores and scores of interns to fight the death penalty all over the U.S. The assistance of interns in the various death penalty offices around the country has been immeasurable. In short, the charity has saved lives.”
Nick Trenticosta, Centre for Equal Justice, Louisiana
The internship is entirely self-funded
Therefore, any financial sponsorship you are able to provide will be invaluable. I will need to cover the costs of everything from my flights and accommodation to food, drink and day-to-day living expenses.
Amicus estimate it will cost in the region of £1500 a month for my 6 month stay.