The mission of the Office of the Post-Conviction Defender (OPCD) is to provide timely and high-quality legal representation to indigent men and women who have been sentenced to death by Tennessee state courts. Through post-conviction litigation, the OPCD fully investigates each case, as well as the legal process which resulted in the capital conviction and sentence. The goal of the office is to make sure that each client's case complies with federal and state constitutional mandates, as well as national capital litigation standards.
The OPCD also assists other capital defense attorneys in the state through non-case-specific advice and training programs. The office strives to work together with such attorneys to improve the quality of the representation received by capital defendants in Tennessee. For more details, please visit the Resources section of the website.
Commitment and Dedication
We will relentlessly pursue our clients’ rights to equal justice through high quality legal representation.
We will represent the best interests of our clients, while being sensitive to their perspective, circumstances, and needs.
We will leverage each other’s strengths and expertise to serve our clients in the most effective manner we can.
We will remain open-minded and pursue innovative approaches in litigation and in the way we systemically provide representation.
The Office of the Post-Conviction Defender (OPCD) was established by the Tennessee legislature in 1995, following the closing of the Capital Case Resource Center. The OPCD officially opened its doors on April 1, 1996. The office originally encompassed ten employees and inherited cases that previously had been handled by the Resource Center. As the case load increased, the office expanded, and today it is comprised of nineteen employees: the director, eight assistant post-conviction defenders, four investigators, four paralegals, one administrative assistant, and an office administrator.
A nine-member Oversight Commission, appointed by the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House, is responsible for choosing the director and assists the office in each year's budgetary process. The members of the Commission are: Rebble Stewart Johnson, Esq. (Chair); Sharon Tipton Massey, Esq.; Gene Gilmer Scott, Jr., Esq.; Tyler Dewitt, Esq.; Niesha M. Wolf, CPA; Prince C. Chambliss, Jr., Esq.; and Rebecca McKelvey Castaneda, Esq. There is currently one vacancy on the Commission.