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A reminder to all users that many of the materials on this site are no longer current, and it is the user’s responsibility to determine the accuracy and applicability of the information contained in the standards before relying on them as a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

New Search Features!


We’re happy to announce the launch of two important new search features!

  • Preview Text / Highlighting: Searches that include keywords will now show a preview of the text in the search results with your keywords highlighted. Remember to put your search terms in quotes if you are looking for a specific phrase.
  • Sorted Results: Previously search results were sorted showing the newest standards or conference materials first.  Now you can choose to sort your results in one of four ways:
    • Newest to oldest (default)
    • Oldest to newest
    • By conference name (sorted A-Z)
    • By keyword relevance (available only when keyword field is used in the search)

If you choose to sort your search results by relevance, it may take a little extra time for the search to complete, so please be patient. You can reduce the search time by limiting your search to a particular geographic location (other than “National”) or by filling in additional fields in the search form such as Date and Conference.

For any questions or problems with the new search features, please contact us at support@capstandards.org.

Site maintenance

The capstandards database will be offline on Friday, September 12 for about 30 minutes for necessary upgrades to our web platform. If you have trouble accessing summaries or files on the 12th, please try back in a little while. We will try to complete all updates as quickly as possible and post here when they are complete. Thank you for your understanding and patience!

Update 9/12/14 3:15 p.m. EDT: All maintenance is now complete. If you experience any site issues, please contact us at support@capstandards.org.

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!

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