Alabama Capital Defense Sample Trial Motions

EJI’s Alabama Capital Defense Trial Manual is a comprehensive review of criminal law and the trial process, with an emphasis on how to defend people facing the death penalty.  Click here to order a manual.

The sample pleadings below are regularly updated to reflect changes in law and practice. They are for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for independent legal research. The law in this area is constantly changing, and the arguments and strategies that are helpful in one case may not be in another. Counsel should use these samples only in conjunction with her own primary research and should adapt each sample motion to the unique facts and circumstances of her client’s case.

Challenges Related to COVID-19 Pandemic

  1. Motion Challenging the Composition of the Venire for Systematic Underrepresentation of Cognizable Groups [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

A.  Getting Started

  1. Preliminary Client Information Checklist  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Investigation Plan Memorandum  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

B.  Procedural Issues

  1. Motion to Apply Heightened Standards Because State Is Seeking Death Penalty  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion for Full Recordation of All Proceedings  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion to Incorporate All Federal and State Constitutional Grounds [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  4. Notice of Assertion of Right to Be Present  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  5. Motion for Permission to File Other Motions  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  6. Motion for Hearing to Determine That Defendant Is Incompetent to Stand Trial  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  7. Motion for a Continuance  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  8. Motion for Charge Conference and Opportunity to Review Final Jury Charge  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

C.   Categorical Bans Against the Death Penalty

  1. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty in This Case Because Defendant Is Intellectually Disabled  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty Because Defendant Suffers from Severe Mental Illness  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion to Prohibit the Death Penalty in This Case Because Defendant Is a Teenager  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

D.  Obtaining Funds for the Defense

  1. Motion to Appoint Additional Counsel  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion for Funds for Expert Assistance to Investigate Grand and Petit Jury Venires  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion for Permission to Proceed Ex Parte in Requests for Funds  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  4. Ex Parte Motion for Investigative Expenses  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  5. Ex Parte Motion for Funds for Mitigation Expert  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  6. Ex Parte Motion for Funds for Expert Psychiatric and Psychological Assistance  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  7. Ex Parte Motion for Funds for Expert Forensic Serologist  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  8. Ex Parte Motion for Funds to Secure Attendance of Out-of-State Witnesses   [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  9. Motion for Interim Payment of Fees and Expenses  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  10. Motion for Adequate Compensation  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

E.  Requesting Discovery

  1. Motion for Discovery of Prosecution Files, Records, and Information  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion for Discovery of Institutional Records and Files  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion to Reveal the Identity of Informants, and Any Deals, Promises or Inducements  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  4. Motion to Inspect, Examine, and Test All Physical Evidence  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  5. Motion for Deposition of State Expert Witnesses and Request for Production of Documents  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  6. Motion to Allow Defendant to View Crime Scene With Counsel  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  7. Motion for DNA Testing of Forensic Evidence  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  8. Motion for Disclosure of Any Alleged Prior Wrongs, Crimes or Acts by Defendant   [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  9. Motion for Disclosure of All Evidence Supporting Mitigating Circumstances  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

F.  Challenging the Indictment

  1. Motion for Discovery of Transcript and Exhibits of Grand Jury Proceedings  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion to Dismiss Indictment Because Its Three Counts Are Duplicitous  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion to Dismiss Indictment Because It Is Multiplicitous and Exposes Defendant to Double Jeopardy  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  4. Motion to Dismiss Indictment Because of Inadequate Notice  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  5. Motion to Dismiss Indictment Because It Fails to Specify Aggravating Circumstance on Which Death Sentence May Be Imposed  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

G.  Controlling Pretrial Publicity

  1. Motion for Change of Venue  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion to Prohibit Trial Participants from Providing Information About Case to Press  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion to Seal Court File and Close Pretrial Proceedings  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  4. Motion to Prohibit Broadcasting, Recording, or Photographing of Proceeding  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  5. Motion to Hold the District Attorney in Contempt of Court  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

H.  Ensuring Fair Jury Selection

  1. Motion for Access to All Jury System Records  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion to Dismiss Indictment Because of Systematic Underrepresentation in Composition of Grand Jury  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion to Dismiss Indictment Because of Discrimination in Selection of Grand Jury Foreperson  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  4. Motion Challenging Composition of Petit Jury for Systematic Underrepresentation of Cognizable Groups  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  5. Motion for Individually Sequestered Voir Dire  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  6. Motion to Remove Potential Jurors Who Knew or Were Acquainted With the Victim or Victim’s Family  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  7. Motion to Remove Potential Jurors Who Are Biased in Favor of Death Penalty  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  8. Motion to Permit Adequate Voir Dire on Racial Bias  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  9. Motion to Prohibit State from Using Peremptory Challenges in Racially Discriminatory Manner  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  10. Motion to Require Disclosure of Information Concerning Prospective Jurors That May Be Favorable to Defense  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  11. Motion for Personal Service on Potential Jurors Who Do Not Respond to Their Summons, and for Court to Determine All Excusals  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  12. Motion to Disclose Past and Present Relationships and Associations Between District Attorney’s Office and Prospective Jurors  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

I.  Suppressing Illegally Obtained Evidence

  1. Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained From Illegal Search and Arrest  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion to Suppress Identification Evidence  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion to Suppress Defendant’s Illegally Obtained Statement  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

J.  Challenging Prosecutorial Misconduct

  1. Motion to Bar Improper Prosecutorial Argument  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion to Bar Prosecutor from Using Defendant’s Alleged Prior Wrongs, Crimes, or Acts  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion to Preclude Prosecutor from Introducing Prejudicial Photographs  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]

K.  Ensuring Fair Sentencing

  1. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty Because Alabama’s Death Penalty Statute Fails to Narrow Class of Death Eligible Offenders  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  2. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty Because It Is Applied Arbitrarily  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  3. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty Because of Risk That an Innocent Person Will Be Executed  [updated motion coming soon]
  4. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty Because Alabama’s Capital Statute Does Not Reflect Constitutional Limits  [updated motion coming soon]
  5. Motion to Prohibit Prosecutor from Introducing Improper Victim Impact Testimony and for Proper Instruction on Victim Impact Testimony [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  6. Motion to Prohibit Application of the “Especially Heinous, Atrocious, or Cruel” Aggravating Circumstance [updated motion coming soon]
  7. Motion for Proper Instruction on Weighing of Mitigating and Aggravating Circumstances  [updated motion coming soon]
  8. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty Without Unanimous Jury Verdict Beyond a Reasonable Doubt [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  9. Motion to Prohibit Characterization of Jury’s Verdict as Advisory or a Recommendation  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  10. Motion for Special Verdict Forms Reflecting Jury’s Verdict as to Existence of Each Charged Aggravating Circumstance and Determination of Whether Aggravation Outweighs Mitigation [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  11. Motion to Permit Evidence and Argument on Residual Doubt at Penalty Phase  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  12. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty Because of Arbitrary and Discriminatory Racial Bias  [updated motion coming soon]
  13. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty Due to Inadequate Proportionality Review  [pdf]  [doc]  [wpd]
  14. Motion to Prohibit Death Penalty Because Alabama’s Method of Execution Is Unconstitutional  [updated motion coming soon]
Disclaimer:  This site is intended to assist with legal research, legal strategies, and matters pertaining to capital defense, and to create awareness of additional available resources. The information contained herein is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel or for individual legal advice supplied by a lawyer familiar with a client’s case, and should therefore not be used as a substitute for independent legal research. Due to the comprehensive nature of this topic and the ongoing development of the law in many related areas, users are advised to conduct independent legal research on the topics covered within this website.