The Pitfalls of the Death Penalty in Tennessee: Three Public Defenders Share their Perspectives

pitfalls poster-image

Monday, March 31, 12 noon – 1pm
Vanderbilt University, Furman Hall, room 114
111 – 21st Avenue South, Nashville (click here for parking information)


The state of Tennessee is planning to execute an unprecedented number of prisoners in 2014-15.  Now, more than ever, it is important for all Tennesseans to understand the death penalty system and its pitfalls.  

Join us on Monday, March 31 at 12 noon for a panel discussion of issues raised by the death penalty in Tennessee with three public defenders at three different levels of the court system:

Dawn Deaner is the Metropolitan Public Defender for Nashville-Davidson County, a position she has held since 2008.  Before then, she spent 11 years as an Assistant Public Defender in Nashville.  Dawn is also an Adjunct Professor of Trial Advocacy at Vanderbilt University Law School.  She received her law degree from George Washington University Law School, and her undergraduate degree from Columbia University.  In 2011, Dawn received the Tennessee Bar Association’s 2011 Ashley T. Wiltshire Public Service Attorney of the Year award.  In 2012, she was recognized by Gideon’s Promise (formerly the Southern Public Defender Training Center) with the Stephen B. Bright Public Defender Award for her contributions to improving the quality of indigent defense in the South.

Justyna Garbaczewska Scalpone is the Tennessee Post-Conviction Defender.  She obtained her law degree in 2002 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Following graduation, Justyna worked for almost ten years at the Office of the State Appellate Defender in Chicago, first representing non-capital indigent defendants on direct and then death row inmates in post-conviction proceedings.  In addition to providing direct representation to clients, Justyna has served as the supervisor to mitigation and investigative staff.  In the spring of 2011, Illinois abolished the death penalty and Governor Quinn commuted sentences of all the death row inmates to life in prison.  A year later, the Appellate Defender’s capital post-conviction unit closed its doors.  Having found her calling as a capital defense attorney, Justyna moved to Tennessee in June 2012 to work at the Office of the Post-Conviction Defender in Nashville.  She has been serving as the director of the office since March 2013.

Kelley Henry is the supervisor of the capital habeas unit of the federal
 public defender’s office in Nashville. The Capital Habeas Unit represents 
men and women on death row who are challenging their capital convictions
 and sentences on federal constitutional grounds. The unit represents these
 clients through federal district court, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, 
the United States Supreme Court, and in executive clemency. Ms. Henry has
 represented poor people charged with capital crimes at trial, direct
 appeal, state post-conviction, federal habeas, and clemency in Missouri,
 Arizona, and Tennessee.

This event is free and open to the public.  Pizza will be served for lunch.

Co-sponsored by Tennessee Students and Educators for Social Justice, Law Students for Social Justice, and the Vanderbilt Prison Project.



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