Use the link to the right to register for the full week. Intellectual Disability Preconference on May 26-27 and College on May 28-30.
May 26 at 8:30 am to May 30 at 5 pm
(please arrange your flghts to be there for the start and finish - the room block is available the day before and after)
The Clarence Darrow/David Baldus Death Penalty College is an annual training program for capital defense attorneys, mitigation specialists, and capital investigators held in downtown Iowa City at the University of Iowa College of Law, located in the heart of the campus.
Participants spend the week working on their own pending cases as well as learning from some of the most prestigious capital defense trainers in the country. Each day, participants engage in various learning activities, including small group sessions, lectures, role playing, and strategy demonstrations for guilt/innocence and penalty phases.
Small group sessions are designed to provide constructive feedback and encouragement while also brainstorming the case and doing actual case preparation for the capital trial. These sessions are followed by lectures and demonstrations for smaller groups or plenary sessions for all participants. Evenings are primarily unscheduled, allowing participants to explore all that Iowa City has to offer.
See the current version of the Darrow College schedule here. Subject to change.
The program is held in honor of the late Professor David Baldus, whose thorough, groundbreaking capital punishment research significantly impacted the death penalty defense community and legal community as a whole. Professor Baldus is best known for “the Baldus study,” cited by the United States Supreme Court in McCleskey v. Kemp, although his research extends far beyond.
Intellectual Disability: The Essentials
Intensive 2-Day Training Preconference to the Clarence Darrow/David Baldus Death Penalty College
Comprehensive training on intellectual disability designed
specifically for capital defense teams.
Intellectual disability is an absolute bar to the death penalty. We
must therefore evaluate whether the client is intellectually disabled
in every case in which death is a possible punishment. Easier said
This intensive two-day training introduces participants to the nuances
of investigating and litigating intellectual disability claims and
features strategies for overcoming common barriers to identifying and
effectively presenting evidence of ID.
Intellectual disability can be difficult to detect. Clients go to
great lengths to "hide" their disability due to shame and
embarrassment, even when it can save their life. Unlike common
stereotypes, those with intellectual disability cannot be identified
based on their appearance or superficial interactions. Clients may
appear “normal” in the context of school, work, family or when we
first encounter them as the defendant in a capital prosecution.
Education is crucial to overcome these stereotpyes.
Investigations face multiple barriers. School records are missing, IQ
scores are unavailable or - in some cases - there are multiple IQ
scores with variable scores. We’ll discuss how to overcome these
This training will offer the most up-to-date legal and scientific
information concerning ID and provide hands-on opportunities to
practice skills needed to screen effectively for ID. Students will
learn how to work with mental-health experts and how to develop and
provide the detailed life-history information needed for an effective
evaluation. Instructors will include psychologists, lawyers, and
mitigation specialists who are experts on the subject.
Tentative Agenda (subject to change)
Overview: How is intellectual disability defined in the context of a capital case, and how is that definition evolving?
Misconceptions and red flags: What stereotypes do we hold about people with intellectual disability that prevent teams from recognizing ID? What red flags for intellectual disability should we look for in our cases? What misconceptions about intellectual disability are held by prosecutors, judges, and jury members?
Anatomy of a case: What initial investigation must the team perform when evaluating intellectual disability? When does the issue arise using our cases? When are we ready to choose and hire an expert? How much time does all this take? How does intellectual disability effect our client’s experience and the path to a guilty plea?
Court development and legal posture for Atkins presentations: What are the recent legal developments concerning Atkins and intellectual disability? What opportunities and challenges does this pose?
Small group, introductions: Introducing participants and their cases. Identifying the status of the cases and outstanding tasks.
Adaptive deficits: How to we define and identify adaptive deficits? How do adaptive deficits look in real life? What do we need to understand about education and special education and formalized testing to effectively investigate adaptive deficits?
Collecting and interpreting records and documenting risk factors: Where do we go to find records related to an intellectual disability diagnosis and risk factors for intellectual disability, and how do we make sure we get them? What do we need to understand about the systems that produced those records?
Historical IQ scores: Historical IQ information is not always straight forward. We can find multiple and divergent test scores or scores that purport to be IQ scores but are not. What do we need to understand about the age of the test, the testing conditions, and the test norms to understand the significance of of old test scores?
Small group, record interpretation: We’ll look at actual records related to intellectual disability, such as education, job, social service, and medical records, and identify and interpret pertinent information. We’ll plan additional information to follow up on the existing records.
Interviewing for Adaptive Deficits: Interviewing for adaptive deficits is a unique and difficult aspect of a mitigation investigation. We must understand the applicable social and familial understanding of intellectual disability and work to surmount barriers created by shame and masking. How do we identify and document supports that have helped our client to function?
Small group, interviews: We’ll develop interview techniques designed to elicit information about adaptive deficit and overcome the particular challenges to this task.
Testing: Not every case requires IQ testing and not every IQ test is appropriate for every case. We’ll discuss when testing is desirable and when it is not and what we need to do to be prepared for testing. We’ll talk about what test is most suitable for what case and whether and how we test for malingering.
Complications: intellectual disability evaluations are always complicated. We’ll discuss the most common complications, including co-morbintellectual disabilityity such as addiction and complex trauma. What are the unique consintellectual disabilityerations in cases where the client is not a native English speaker? What do we need to understand about various norms and how their relevant to different cases?
Conclusion, the client: Clients with intellectual disability face and present unique challenges. How do they experience a capital case? What does the team need to do to address their needs?
Confirmed faculty for ID Preconference:
Pricing includes lunch each day
Early Bird pricing before March 2
Members - $800
Non Members - $850
Between March 3 - May 1
Members - $850
Non Members - $900
After May 2
Members - $900
Non Members - $950
There is a $100 discount for every registration from an organization after the first 3.
We have a room block at $94 (plus taxes and fees) including breakfast at the Hyatt Place Iowa City Downtown
Invited Faculty for the College include:
Mary K. Poirier
NOTE: As of today, NAPD is going forward with all conferences scheduled after May 1, 2020. However, NAPD, like all of your organizations, is monitoring the situation thoughtfully, knowing that there is much we do not know and cannot know. We will keep you updated if we make adjustments to our events calendar. You can access our cancellation policy HERE