Washington and Lee law professor David Bruck will travel to Tokyo, Japan this month to help teach a day-and-a-half seminar for Japanese capital defense attorneys on mental health issues, false confessions, and sentencing fact-investigation in death penalty cases. He will be joined by a U.S. psychologist and a staff attorney from the American Bar Association.
The seminar, titled “The Protection of the Vulnerable: an Effective Defense, is being sponsored by the International Justice Project (IJP) and the Japan Federation of Bar Associations. The seminar is intended to offer an opportunity to discuss the role of a defense lawyer in capital cases and the challenges they face. Practicing attorneys will learn about the challenges faced by defenders in other countries and some of the tools they have used to expand and strengthen the role of the capital defense lawyer.
Defenders also will learn how to be more effective advocates, and the special skills needed to effectively represent vulnerable groups such as the mentally retarded, juveniles, the mentally ill, and those facing a possible death sentence.
Prof. Bruck directs W&L Law’s capital defense clinic, the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse. Prior to coming to W&L, he practiced criminal law in South Carolina for 28 years, and specialized in the defense of capital cases at the trial, appellate and post-conviction stages. Over the course of his career, he has served as Richland County (Columbia, S.C.) Public Defender, as Chief Attorney of the South Carolina Office of Appellate Defense, and since 1992 as Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel to the federal defender system nationwide.