Capital Defender Office Records, 1975-2007, bulk 1995-2007
- The Capital Defender Office (1995-2008) (CDO) was established as part of New York States 1995 death penalty legislation which took effect on September 1, 1995. Under the new law, the State expanded the crime of first degree murder and introduced two new penalties, death and life in prison without possibility of parole, for those convicted. Working from offices in Albany, New York City, and Rochester, the CDO sought to ensure that defendants being tried by the State, who could not afford representation, receive skilled counsel in capital cases. The CDO closed its Rochester office in 2005, and, as no state death penalty cases remain, the Albany and New York City offices in 2008. This collection consists of news clips (filed by subject), subject files, bound records of appeal in the cases of the People v. Cahill, Harris, LaValle, Mateo, McCoy, and Taylor, notebooks with appellate briefs, New York county court papers arranged by county, government studies, reports and debates on capital punishment, annual reports, and a small number of VHS tapes recording court proceedings. There are defendant case files, some with correspondence, court papers, and news clips and others with just news clips.
- 116.73 cubic ft.
- English .
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, The Capital Defender Office (CDO) Records, 1995-2008. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as the CDO Records).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to this record group is unrestricted.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
The New York State Capital Defender Office Records represent the work of New York State capital defenders during reinstatement (following Furman v. Georgia) of the death penalty in New York from the period of 1995- 2007.The records showcase the capital cases that members of the CDO defended against.
The Capital Defender Office collection consists of news clips (filed by date), subject files, bound records of appeal in the cases of the People v. Cahill, Harris, LaValle, Mateo, McCoy, and Taylor, notebooks with appellate briefs, New York county court papers arranged by county of Murder Two indictments, government studies, reports and debates on capital punishment, annual reports, and a small number of VHS tapes recording court proceedings.
Series one, the appellate briefs were separated upon donation on the material. The archivist choose to keep these briefs as the CDO did and did not integrate the appellate briefs with the bound records on appeal cases.
Much of the collection is a vast collection of news clipping documenting the death penalty in New York State. The news clippings are organized by year but there has been minimal processing to the news clippings. The donor has a set of original clips as well as duplicates of the same materials. The processing team choose to not to move the materials for the original order because the materials have been arranged by year and could be given back to the donor. The materials are kept onsite.
- Biographical / Historical:
Capital punishment was returned to the criminal statutes of New York State by Chapter 1 of the Laws of 1995, which took effect on September 1, 1995. The new law expanded the crime of first degree murder, and provided two new penalties for persons convicted of first degree murder: death and life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Capital Defender Office [CDO] was established under New York State's death penalty statute and was given the statutory mandate of ensuring that defendants who cannot afford adequate representation in capital cases receive effective assistance of counsel. The statute also charged the CDO with creating an effective system of capital defense throughout New York State. This system of capital defense is ensured through several means, including: Providing direct representation of capital defendants; Helping to identify private attorneys to represent capital defendants; Entering agreements with legal aid societies and other defender organizations to accept appointments in capital cases; Monitoring the performance and accounting of such defender organizations; Providing private attorneys with continuing legal advice and other assistance; Promulgating standards that attorneys must meet to qualify to defend capital cases; Providing or arranging for representation in capital cases before permanent appointment of counsel; Providing the criminal defense bar with training and continuing legal education about death penalty practice and law.
Since the office was established, 10,000 murders have occurred in New York. Prosecutors considered bringing the death penalty in 877 capital-eligible cases, and district attorneys filed notice of intent to seek the death penalty in 58 cases. Juries in only seven cases ultimately returned death sentences. No one was executed.
Kevin Doyle, executive director and the first Capital Defender in New Yorks history, preceded over the capital cases in New York during the period. Doyle had practiced in New York both in a big firm and in the public defenders office, and had also tried capital cases in Alabama. A three-person board of directors, which met on a regular basis to review office policy, governed the CDO. The Capital Defender, appointed by the Board of Directors, ran the agency and was responsible for building the state's capital defense system. In 1995, the CDO established three offices to provide capital representation, one in Albany, one in Rochester, and one in New York City. The Rochester office was closed on October 31, 2005, and the other two on June 13, 2008.
- Acquisition information:
The Capital Defender Office of New York transferred their records to the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives in 2008.
The collection is organized into the following series:
Series 1: Appellate Briefs
Series 2: Capital Defender Case Files
Subseries 1:Mateo Record
Subseries 2: LaValle Record
Subseries 3: McCoy Record
Subseries 4: Taylor Record
Subseries 5: Harris Record
Subseries 6: Cahill Record
Series 3: Death Row Conditions
Series 4: Murder Two Indictments
Series 5: Subject Files
Series 6: Clippings
- Processing information:
Processed in 2015 by Melissa McMullen, Stephanie Clowe, and Jon Palmer.