Help / Frequently Asked Questions

Standards (7)

How do I locate a standard?

There are thousands of standard files in the database, and the number grows every day. The fastest and easiest way to find a particular standard is by clicking on “Search Standards” under the “Standards” menu. This will bring up a list of all the standards in the database with a search form at the top.  You can fill out as few or as many of the fields in the form as you want. For detailed descriptions of how to use the search form, visit the Using the Database page. You can also click on the name of each field in the form for more information while you search.

Can I search for standards from a particular category?

Yes! To search for a standard from a particular category (for example, National Guidelines or Training Manuals), visit the Standards search page and select the type of standards you wish to search from the “Category” box. Complete any additional fields you wish in the search form, and click “search.” You will now see results only from standards in that category.

Help! I ran a search and I have too many results!

There are a very large number of files in the database, and a broad search is likely to return hundreds or even thousands of results. You can narrow your search by filling out additional fields in the search form, such as Year, Conference Name, Title, or Author. Remember that the “General Keywords” field is searching the full text of the document. Consider moving some or all of your general keywords to the Title field or enclosing your general keywords in quotes to search for an exact phrase.

How can I view a list of all standards in the database?

You can view all files in each standard category by selecting the “Browse Standards” option under the “Standards” menu. This will bring up a sub-menu listing all of the standard categories in the database. Simply click on the category you wish to view, and a page will load listing all standards from that category currently in the database, sorted by date. Because of the very large number of files in the database, the standards in most categories will be listed on multiple pages (20 are shown at a time). To narrow the list, we strongly recommend you use the search form.

Can I download the files in the database in Word or Word Perfect format?

No. The files in the NCSD are available exclusively in PDF format, regardless of the format in which they were created. This is done for the sake of consistency and to make them available to the greatest number of users. All PDFs can be viewed using the free Adobe Reader program. Each file is text-searchable, and you can copy and paste from the file, similar to a Word document. If you need to access the original file, which may be in a different format, please contact us.

Are you accepting additional standards for inclusion in the database?

Yes! We are very happy to accept new standards to add to the database. Hard copy files can be mailed to the Death Penalty Representation Project, and we will take care of converting them to digital format. Please contact the Project before mailing any items to confirm that we do not already have a copy of the standards you wish to donate.

How can I request the removal of a standard from the site?

If you are the author of a document available on this site and would like us to remove it, please send an email to support@capstandards.org with the name of the document and, if possible, the web address (URL) where you found the document.  If you would like us to remove only specific versions/years of the document, please specify.  We will remove the document(s) as quickly as possible upon receipt of your message and respond with confirmation that they are no longer available on the site.

Caselaw Summaries (3)

How do I search for a specific summary?

To locate a particular summary, select the “Search Summaries” option from the “Caselaw Summaries” menu. This will load a page with a search form. From there you can search by case name or words from the summary using the Content Keywords box.  You can also limit your search by year, state, court, and guideline cited. For detailed information on how to use the search form, please view the Using the Database page.

Haven’t I seen these summaries before?

The summaries here were previously available on the Death Penalty Representation Project website and have been distributed at many training programs. Previously, all summaries were grouped together in a single text document. They are included here in an indexed, searchable format to increase their accessibility and usefulness to the defender community.

Who wrote these summaries?

All summaries in the database were authored by Death Penalty Representation Project staff.

Terms of Use and Access (4)

I’m not a lawyer. Can I register for the site?

Currently, our policy is that only lawyers who are currently working on a capital case may access the secured portions of this website. If you have a situation that you feel warrants special consideration, please feel free to contact a member of our staff!

Can I attach documents I find here to court pleadings?

No.  Use of the standards documents with court pleadings/filings violates our Terms of Service, unless you obtain permission from Project Staff and/or HAT Counsel.  If you are unsure whether a certain use of the documents violates the Terms of Service, please contact us and we will be happy to provide further guidance.

Can I distribute the materials I find here at a defender training seminar?

No.  Any non-confidential use of the documents, including use at training conferences, violates our Terms of Service, unless you obtain permission from Project Staff and/or HAT Counsel.  If you are unsure whether a certain use of the documents violates the Terms of Service, please contact us and we will be happy to provide further guidance.

How can I request the removal of a standard from the site?

If you are the author of a document available on this site and would like us to remove it, please send an email to support@capstandards.org with the name of the document and, if possible, the web address (URL) where you found the document.  If you would like us to remove only specific versions/years of the document, please specify.  We will remove the document(s) as quickly as possible upon receipt of your message and respond with confirmation that they are no longer available on the site.


For detailed instructions and tips for using the website, visit the Using the Database page. You can submit additional questions via the Contact form or by email at support@capstandards.org.