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For the last several years, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has quietly attempted to curtail capital defendants' representation in state postconviction proceedings. In 2011, various justices on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court began to call for federally funded community defender organizations to stop representing capital defendants in state postconviction proceedings. The justices argued, among other things, that the organizations' representation of capital defendants constituted impermissible federal interference with state governmental processes and burdened state judicial resources. The court also alleged the community defender organizations were in violation of federal statutes, which only authorized the organizations to assist state prisoners in federal, but not state, court. It did not take long for the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office to pick up on these signals. The District Attorney's Office filed suit in state court to preclude all federal community defender organizations from representing defendants in state postconviction proceedings. But after the community defenders organization removed the suit to federal court, the District Attorney's Office voluntarily dismissed the case.


Work published prior to Prof. Litman joining the MLaw faculty.