An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  - Gandhi

Legal Education

The Bob Lemon Criminal Defense Scholarship Fund was founded by Lydia Polley, Robyn Lemon Sellers, Bob Lemon, Randy Bauman & Jim Rowan. Photos by Darla Shelden.

Bob Lemon Capital Defense Attorney Scholarship Fund

The mission OK-CADP is abolition of the death penalty. On the road to this ultimate goal, a strategic objective is to reduce the number of new death sentences in Oklahoma. One of the most pivotal ways to influence outcomes in death penalty cases is to maximize the quality of legal representation. One means of maintaining and raising the equality of legal defense is through continuing education. Therefore, we are committing financial aid for capital defense attorneys to attend national training events to further their professional development in the areas of trials, mitigation, appeals, and victim outreach.

The program was established in 2013 with major funding through the generosity of Robert D. Lemon (Jan. 3, 1929 – Oct. 22, 2016)  and Robyn Lemon Sellers. Additional donations allow more scholarships to be awarded; be sure to note that you want your gift to be used for the Capital Defense Attorney Scholarship Fund.


The purpose of the Capital Defense Attorney Scholarships is to enable more participation in high-level development training to expand the knowledge and skills needed to most effectively defend persons accused of capital offenses so they do not receive, or successfully appeal, a death sentence.


State supported defender organizations have not been able to send their lawyers and investigators to national level training in several years due to reduced funding. Their staff has expressed explicit regret about non-attendance, and noted the value such training has for them.


Applications can be submitted through one of the listed agencies below, detailing qualifications and the selected training event, in a free-style letter to OK-CADP. These scholarships will provide support funding of about $500 to cover one major cost component such as airfare. Applications that do not provide substantial cost sharing by the requesting/sponsoring agency, or through other arrangements, cannot be considered. OK-CADP’s intention is to offer at least four scholarships annually.

The scholarships Selection Committee will review all applications and make the granting decisions. The committee comprises representatives from the Federal Capital Habeas Unit, the Oklahoma County Public Defenders Capital Unit, the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS), defense attorneys at-large, and OK-CADP.

Please send your letter of request to:
Attn: Rex Friend
Re: Bob Lemon Capital Defense Scholarship Fund
PO Box 713
Oklahoma City, OK  73101-0713

Applicant qualifications

Attorneys and investigators from:

  • Oklahoma Indigent Defense System (OIDS)
  • Oklahoma County Public Defender Office
  • Tulsa County Public Defender Office
  • Capital Conflict list of above assigned to death penalty case(s)


2013 – 2014 (4) Inaugural Scholarships:
Janella Spurlock, Investigator/Mitigation Specialist
Michael Johns, Capital Investigator
Shena Burgess, Deputy Chief, Tulsa County Public Defender
Joe Robertson, OIDS Executive Director

2014 – 2015 (6)
Katrina Legler, OIDS Appellate Defense Counsel
Raymond E. Deneche, OK County Public Defender
Melanie Freeman Johnson – OK County Public Defender Office, Capital Unit
Raven Sealy, Oklahoma Indigent Defense System
Jim Radford, Oklahoma Indigent Defense System
Clay Curtis, Oklahoma County Public Defender

2015 – 2016 (2)

Traci Quick, Oklahoma Indigent Defense System
Wyna Tyner, Oklahoma Indigent Defense System

2016 – 2017 (3)
Meghan LeFrancois, Appellate Defense Counsel, OIDS
Rhiannon Sisk, Appellate Defense Counsel, OIDS
Virginia Sander, Appellate Defense Counsel, OIDS

2017 – 2018 (4)
Cathy Hammarsten, OK County Public Defender – Capital Trial Team
Melanie Freeman-Johnson, OK County Public Defender – Capital Unit
Nicole Burns, Oklahoma County Public Defender
Thomas Hurley. Oklahoma County Public Defender
Meghan McKee, Tulsa County Public Defender
Lydia Fields, Oklahoma County Public Defender

2018 – 2019 (4)
Jamie Pybas, Division Chief, Oklahoma Indigent Defense System
Kristi Christopher, Division Chief, Capital Post Conviction, OIDS
Melissa Diacon, OK County Public Defender, Mitigation Specialist, Capital Trial Unit
Peter Werneke, OK County Public Defender, Mitigation Specialist, Capital Trial Unit

2022-2023 (4)
Gunner Briscoe, Oklahoma County Public Defenders Office
Robin Kirk, Oklahoma County Public Defenders Office
Alex Thomas, Oklahoma County Public Defenders Office
Taylor Thompson, Oklahoma County Public Defenders Office

29 Scholarships to date