Amy Donnella

Amy Donnella

Amy Gershenfeld Donnella is a senior attorney with the Federal Capital Habeas Project, where she assists lawyers representing clients who have been death-sentenced by the United States. She joined the Project in July, 2015.  She is also an adjunct professor at Villanova University Law School, where she teaches Death Penalty: Theory and Practice. Following law school, Amy worked in a number of jobs as litigator, teacher, in-house attorney, and government attorney, before going into private practice in 1989. In 2008, Amy left private practice to serve  as an assistant federal defender for the Federal Community Defender for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Capital Habeas Unit. Amy took her first capital case as a volunteer attorney in Georgia in 1983 and has continued representing death-sentenced inmates in all stages of their post-conviction litigation in state and federal court, in end-stage litigation and clemency, and in resentencing, ever since. In 1989, she won sentencing relief from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Collier v. Turpin,  177 F.3d 1184 (11th Cir. 1999), and was recognized in 2001 by the Georgia criminal defense bar for her work, helping to get use of the electric chair declared unconstitutional. In April, 2015, she won a new trial for a client convicted on the basis of DNA evidence. She has argued capital cases before the Third, Fourth, Eighth, and Eleventh Circuit Courts of Appeals with some good results and some spectacular defeats. In 1997, she co-authored "Racial Attitudes and the Death Penalty," Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1997, 1468-1487, a subject on which she has lectured. Amy received her B.A. in 1976 from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and her J.D. in 1979 from Harvard Law School.