Dear members of the panel and the larger CAP community:
We are very sorry to report to you that Michael Millman, CAP's founder and Executive Director, died early on Saturday morning, May 31, after several months of illness. We are all deeply saddened by this loss. We know many of you knew Michael well and share our grief.
On April 15th of this year, Death Penalty Focus honored Michael with a lifetime achievement award at its annual gala. As a reminder of the person we all knew, and as a tribute to his lasting legacy, we have provided below a section of his biography which was put together for that event:
Michael Millman devoted most of his professional career to litigating cases in which the defendant was sentenced to death.
After starting on a career in physics, Michael left graduate school to attend law school and pursue his deepening interest in defending civil liberties. During the civil rights movement he worked with, and was deeply inspired by, Alabama
Attorney Fred Gray, who had represented Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and other movement leaders. After law school he returned to California and in 1970 began working as a public defender in Alameda County.
Soon after Michael joined the State Public Defender Office in 1976 the death penalty was reinstated in California and Michael was asked to be the office's Statewide Death Penalty Coordinator. In 1983 the State Bar asked him to help set up a new resource center to assist attorneys appointed to death judgment cases. The result was the creation of the California Appellate Project (CAP). Michael was asked to be its Executive Director, which he has been ever since it began operations in 1984. CAP's work has been devoted to improving the quality of representation in death judgment cases - case by case and collectively - by assisting the lawyers appointed to represent people sentenced to death in California, which has the largest Death Row in the United States (over 750 people), and by raising the standards for representation in death penalty cases.
Along the way, Michael was President of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (CACJ) (1984); President of the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC), an organization dedicated to educating the public about the problems of capital punishment in the United States, where he has worked closely with Professor Anthony Amsterdam and other death penalty litigation leaders (1995 - present); and a member of the Death Penalty Focus Board of Directors (1988 - 1991) and DPF's Advisory Board ever since. He also lectured occasionally at Bay Area law schools, including Stanford and Santa Clara.
Michael strongly believed everyone sentenced to death should receive the highest quality representation. His ability to solve problems in a thoughtful and collegial manner has been instructive to the many people he has supervised and mentored over the past four decades.
Thank you to all of you for your condolences and support.
CAP Board and Staff