Columbia Law School Professor James Liebman Honored for Capital Defense Work

New York City Bar Association Awards Liebman the Norman Redlich Capital Defense Distinguished Service Award

New York, July 17, 2014—Columbia Law School Professor James S. Liebman, a leading expert on the death penalty who has argued several habeas corpus and capital appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court, received the New York City Bar Association’s Norman Redlich Capital Defense Distinguished Service Award on July 14.

The New York City Bar’s Capital Punishment Committee presented the Norman Redlich Capital Defense Distinguished Service Award to Liebman at its annual habeas corpus training program. The award, named for the former dean of New York University School of Law who was a prominent advocate for reforming the nation’s capital-punishment laws, is given to a practitioner in New York who has demonstrated outstanding lifetime commitment to capital defense work.
Earlier this month, Liebman, the Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Law, and five former students published The Wrong Carlos, a book chronicling the investigation he and some of his students conducted into the criminal prosecution and execution of Carlos DeLuna. The investigation, previewed in an article in the Columbia Human Rights Law Review in 2012 demonstrates that DeLuna may well have been innocent of the murder for which he was executed. Liebman and his former students have also produced a digital companion to the book ( that makes publicly available perhaps the most comprehensive set of primary records in any U.S. capital case.
Liebman is author of numerous works on the death penalty and habeas corpus, including the co-authored “Broken System” studies: A Broken System: Error Rates in Capital Cases, 1973-1995 (2000) and A Broken System, Part II: Why There Is So Much Error in Capital Cases and What Can Be Done About It (2002).
He joined the Columbia Law School faculty in 1985 and was assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1979 to 1985. An expert in public-sector structural reform, especially as it relates to K-12 education, Liebman served as the chief accountability officer for the New York City Department of Education from 2006 to 2009.