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 had 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.
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, three investigators, three paralegals, two legal secretaries, an office administrator, and an information and technology specialist.
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.; Gilbert Wayne McCarter, II, Esq.; Gene Gilmer Scott, Jr., Esq.; Kathleen Starnes; Niesha M. Wolf, CPA; and Prince C. Chambliss, Jr., Esq.. There are currently two vacancies on the commission.