Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse Launches New Web Site

Lexington, VA • Monday, December 19, 2005

The Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse at the Washington and Lee University School of Law has launched a new web site offering materials and resources for capital case defense attorneys. The web site, www.vc3.org, was developed by the Clinic students under the supervision of Professor David I. Bruck, current director of the Clinic.

Designed as a successor to the Capital Defense Journal, which was published from 1989 through 2005, the web site is exclusively tailored to the needs of defense counsel engaged in the defense of Virginia capital cases. Access to the site is free, but most of the site is restricted to persons engaged in criminal defense.

The web site contains sample motions, jury instructions and sentencing forms, historical data on all reported capital murder cases in Virginia since 1978, recent articles from the Capital Defense Journal, links to other capital defense resources, Virginia capital statutory links, and more. The site also includes "15 Steps to Life," a plain-language guide to capital pretrial and trial strategy.

“This is a work in progress,” notes Bruck. “There will be a great deal more material available at www.vc3.org in due course. Within a year or two, we expect to have created a valuable and much-used resource for court-appointed capital defense counsel throughout Virginia.  The site will also afford almost limitless opportunities for W&L students to engage directly in improving the quality and consistency of the defense that Virginia affords to people charged with capital crimes.”

Future development within the site will include an on-line expert transcript bank for quick research on both defense and prosecution experts who have appeared in Virginia criminal cases, and a calendar of upcoming capital defense training opportunities.

The Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse is a trial-level legal aid clinic providing free services to defense attorneys who represent capital murder defendants in cases throughout Virginia. Ten Washington and Lee law students are accepted into the Clinic each year and remain in the Clinic for the entire third year of law school. Each case is assigned to a team of two students who maintain primary responsibility for handling matters relating to the case.

The Clinic was founded in 1989 by longtime criminal law scholar Professor William S. Geimer. Professor Roger D. Groot directed the clinic from 1999 through 2004. Currently the clinic is led by Bruck, a leading national expert on capital defense, who since 1976 has successfully defended scores of capital defendants on trial, on appeal, and before the United States Supreme Court.

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