Rushing To Execution – Ethical Issues and Procedural Barriers in Christeson v. Roper

Thursday, April 27, 2017 -
2:30pm to 4:30pm


Legal experts and capital defenders will address the profound and irreversible impacts the narrow habeas corpus standards can have in death penalty cases, particularly when combined with lawyers’ conflicts of interest and limited funding for representation. The panelists will use Christeson v. Roper as a timely example of how these issues can quickly compound and infect every level of judicial review – resulting in Mark Christeson’s execution in January 2017 without having his intellectual disability ever considered on its merits by a federal court. Just two years earlier the U.S. Supreme Court had stayed his execution with mere hours to go, finding that he was entitled to new lawyers in place of the attorneys that had filed his federal appeal almost 4 months late and then concealed that failure for almost 9 years. While Mr. Christeson did get new lawyers, they struggled to get funds for their representation and convince the courts that Mr. Christeson should not pay the ultimate price for his prior attorneys’ errors. This case illustrates how current habeas standards can undermine procedural justice for the accused, and will facilitate a lively discussion of the ethical duties of lawyers who represent clients facing the death penalty and the courts’ role in ensuring robust review of these cases.

Missouri CLE Credit (2-hours ethics)

Co-sponsored by: ABA Section of State and Local Government Law, Section of Public Contract Law, and Forum on Affordable Housing


Prof. Lawrence Fox, Yale Law School and Partner at Drinker, Biddle, & Reath LLP

Prof. Peter Joy, Washington University in St. Louis School of Law

Jennifer Merrigan, The Phillips Black Project Joseph Perkovich, The Phillips Black Project Introductory

Remarks by the Honorable Michael Wolff, St. Louis University School of Law and Missouri Supreme Court (Ret.)


Brendan Roediger


PDF icon rushing_to_execution_invitation.pdf181.94 KB