Louisiana likely to pay for Loyola law school to handle death penalty cases • Louisiana Illuminator

Gov. Jeff Landry’s administration plans to contract with Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans to represent people facing the death penalty as well as juveniles charged with first-degree murder. The school would be one of five entities receiving funding to defend the state’s death penalty.

State prosecutor Rémy Starns briefly outlined the plans on Wednesday during a public hearing to move a $1 million state contract for death penalty defense from the Capital Appeals Project, a private nonprofit law firm, to Loyola. The change is expected to take place on July 1, when the state’s new budget year begins, although the agreement has not yet been signed.

Madeleine Landrieu, a retired appellate judge and dean of the law school, said defending people against the death penalty aligns with the Catholic university’s mission. The Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Jesuits, the religious order that governs Loyola, have called for an end to the death penalty.

“I thought it was a good match,” Landrieu said in an interview on Friday. “The Jesuits are fighters for social justice.”

The work includes death penalty appeals, post-conviction proceedings and some work not related to the death penalty. Under the contract, the law school would also represent a small group of so-called “juvenile lifers,” adults serving life sentences without parole for crimes they committed while minors, as well as teens under the age of 17 charged with first-degree murder . .

Loyola plans to hire the Capital Appeals Project attorneys who worked on the cases to handle them further. Landrieu said it was important to retain the expertise of established death penalty attorneys.

The law school will also offer a new class on defending against the death penalty in conjunction with the state contract. Landrieu’s hope is that Loyola can entice students to defend the death penalty.

The state is obligated to pay for legal defense against the death penalty, even if it is handled by an outside group like Loyola.

“That is a legal responsibility that lies with the state. It is not relieved of its financial obligations” by partnering with Loyola, Landrieu said.

In the next fiscal year, Starns has proposed spending $6.2 million on outside lawyers to represent defendants in capital cases. same as last yearbut some of the money will go to different entities.

Loyola will receive $1 million, and four other groups will split the rest, according to the public defender’s budget documents.

Three nonprofit law firms – Capital Defense Office of Southeast Louisiana ($1.3 million), Louisiana Capital Assistance Center ($1.4 million) and Mwalimu Center for Justice ($1.3 million) – will receive the bulk of the funding. Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District in Baton Rouge will receive $1.28 million in 2023 after merging with another nonprofit death penalty law firm, Baton Rouge Capital Conflict Office.

Initially, Starns had proposed directing Loyola’s state funding through the Orleans Public Defender Office, but the new state Public Defender Oversight Board rejected that plan earlier this week. Instead, they instructed Starns to contract with the university directly from the state level.