Welcome to the ABA National Capital Standards Database

Welcome to the American Bar Association National Capital Standards Database, created by the ABA Death Penalty Representation Project!  Before viewing any of the standards or case summaries in our collection, you must first register for a username and password and log in to the site.  Each request for access is reviewed individually by a member of our staff, so please be patient while we review your application.  Access to this site is currently restricted to attorneys representing defendants or prisoners in capital proceedings.  If you have any questions about accessing this site, please send a message to support@capstandards.org.

A reminder to all users that many of the materials on this site are no longer current, and it is the user’s responsibility to determine the accuracy and applicability of the information contained in the standards before relying on them as a guide to current practice.

News and Updates

Summaries updated

Green Check Mark

After conducting an extensive search for missing cases, the Project has added approximately 80 new caselaw summaries to our database of opinions citing the Guidelines.  These opinions date back as far as 1991 and bring the database current through the end of 2013. As always, you can find our “List of Cases Citing the Guidelines” and “Summaries of Cases Citing the Guidelines” documents containing all citations/summaries in a single-document format on the Project’s webpage dedicated to the ABA Guidelines.

New in 2014!

The Death Penalty Representation Project is happy to announce an upcoming enhancement to our “Caselaw Summaries” collection.  The updated collection will include virtually all reported opinions that cite to the ABA Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases, including those opinions where the courts have used “creative” terminology or numbering that might escape a standard Westlaw or Lexis search.  As always, you will be able to search the summaries by jurisdiction, court system, guideline set, and/or guideline number, along with our full-text keyword search.  Check back soon for updates about the launch of the expanded collection!

Technical issue with Standards files

We are aware that there is currently a problem opening the standards documents on the site. You can still search, but you will not be able to view the document itself. We are working hard to resolve this issue and will post an update as soon as we have more information. In the meantime, if you locate a document using the search that you urgently need to access, contact Emily Williams at emily.williams@americanbar.org or 202-662-1735 and we can send you the original file. Sorry for any inconvenience this has caused!

UPDATE: Our fantastic site developer, Four Lights Web Development, has found a solution that will allow users to access documents while the server error that caused the issue is being investigated by the hosting company. All files should now open as expected. If you have any additional problems, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Registration Reminder: Email Addresses


A number of users have recently registered using bulk/free mail accounts such as Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo. A friendly reminder that applications with these types of email addresses take much longer to process as we attempt to verify your information. This verification process is required to maintain the security of the site. If at all possible, please use your organization’s email (e.g. jane.doe@fd.org) so we know that we are sending your username and password to the right person! We promise never to sell or share any personal information, including email addresses, and the only messages you will ever receive from this site will be related to site access (initial registration confirmation, password reminders that you request, etc.). If you have any questions or are waiting to receive a response to a recently-submitted application, please contact us at support@capstandards.org. Thank you for helping us keep this site secure!

Caselaw Summaries updated

Approximately 40 new summaries of opinions citing to the ABA Guidelines have been added to the database. These include several older opinions that were previously inadvertently excluded from the collection, as well as opinions issued in recent months. The summaries are now current as of July 24, 2013.

As a reminder, these cases have not been Key Cited/Shepardized. It is the responsibility of the user to make an independent determination if the court’s decision has been overruled or affected by later precedent!

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