The TCADP 2021 Annual Conference: Reckoning with Injustice in the Death Penalty and Beyond will take place as a virtual event on Saturday, February 27, 2021 from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It will feature a panel discussion, keynote address, and the presentation of our annual awards, along with special breakout sessions. You’ll find program details below. Register now!
2021 Panel Discussion
Our panel discussion will address the impact of COVID-19 on use of the death penalty and on incarcerated individuals throughout the state and country. We are pleased to confirm the following panelists:
- Shawn Nolan is the Chief of the Capital Habeas Unit in the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern district of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His office represents individuals on death row in Texas, including Ruben Gutierrez, whose June 16, 2020 execution date was stayed at the eleventh hour by the U.S. Supreme Court. One of Shawn’s federal clients, Dustin Honken, was put to death on July 17, 2020. Shawn witnessed his execution.
- Keri Blakinger is a reporter at the The Marshall Project, where she covers criminal justice with a focus on prisons and capital punishment. Keri has written extensively about how corrections systems have responded to the pandemic and the toll the virus has taken on individuals in prisons and jails nationwide.
- Amanda Ramirez is the wife of John Ramirez. John faced execution by the State of Texas on September 9, 2020 but the date was withdrawn in late August due to public health concerns. His execution was set right as the pandemic was taking hold.
2021 Award Recipients
The TCADP Board of Directors is humbled to honor three capital defense attorneys whose zealous advocacy has spared numerous individuals from execution and impacted the future of the death penalty in Texas. Click here for a detailed description of each award recipient.
Cliff Sloan teaches Criminal Justice, Constitutional Law, and Death Penalty Litigation at Georgetown Law. Cliff led the legal team for Bobby Moore, whose case has fundamentally changed the way the State of Texas assesses intellectual disability claims in capital cases.
Gretchen Sween devotes her full-time practice to defending indigent individuals in death penalty cases. In June 2020, she secured a rare win at the U.S. Supreme Court in the capital case of Terence Andrus, who was convicted and sentenced to death in Fort Bend County in 2012 after his trial counsel failed to present or even investigate readily available mitigating evidence of his troubled upbringing and mental health issues.
The David P. Atwood Founder’s Award was established by the TCADP Board of Directors in 2011 in honor of Houstonian Dave Atwood, who established our organization more than 20 years ago. The award is given at the discretion of the TCADP Board and honors those who have made a lifelong commitment to justice.
The recipient of the 2021 Founder’s Award is defense attorney Richard (“Dick”) Burr in recognition of his lifetime of zealous advocacy on behalf of individuals on death row in Texas and, particularly, his recent efforts on behalf of Billy Joe Wardlow and Cesar Fierro.
Learn more about our award recipients and join us in honoring their commitment to justice.
2021 Keynote Speaker
Our 2021 keynote speaker is capital defense attorney and civil rights advocate, Henderson Hill, who will share his thoughts on this moment of reckoning with racial injustice. Henderson is Senior Counsel with the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Clinic. He served as founding director of the 8th Amendment Project and launched and continues to serve as co-director of RedressNC, an initiative to unwind extreme sentences through collaboration with community stakeholders. Henderson is currently representing North Carolina death row prisoners in the Racial Justice Act litigation challenging their death sentences and also served on the legal team for Curtis Flowers, whose conviction was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court after six trials marked by egregious racial bias in the jury selection process.
Comments from participants in past conferences:
“I’m sending this note to thank you and TCADP for the informative conference today. I attended with my father who invited me. I knew very little about this issue before today and found the conference to be enlightening. The panel discussion, keynote and awards, and the workshops were interesting, thought provoking, and informative. The facility was very nice and comfortable, and the food was excellent. It was a well-organized and interesting day, and I appreciate all the work that you and your group did to make this happen.” – 2020 Conference Participant
“Incredibly informative, I have never attended a conference and I am so grateful for this experience and efforts to abolish the death penalty.” – 2020 Conference Participant
“Last year was awesome; this year was super awesome.” – 2020 and 2019 Conference Participant
“This was the first TCADP conference I have attended, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The truth is that I was quite impressed. It was well run, well staffed, and well attended.” – 2019 Conference Participant
“Your work to make it so seamless made people connect in amazing ways. Those connections will last long after this event.” – 2019 Conference Participant
For information about past TCADP conferences, please visit the archives page.