When Life Depends on it: Supplementary Guidelines for the Mitigation Function of Defense Teams in Death Penalty Cases

70 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2008

See all articles by Sean O'Brien

Sean O'Brien

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law

Date Written: July 8, 2008

Abstract

The Supplementary Guidelines for the Mitigation Function of Capital Defense Teams are the culmination of three years of work coordinated by the Public Interest Litigation Clinic (PILC) and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in cooperation with seasoned capital litigators and mitigation specialists across the United States. This article describes the Supplementary Guidelines and the process by which they were researched and developed. Part I describes the Supplementary Guidelines and the process by which they were researched and developed. Part II describes the reasons for undertaking this project. Part III describes the process of investigating, researching and drafting the the Supplementary Guidelines. Part IV identifies the scope and goals of the Supplementary Guidelines and identifies some of the issues that guided our efforts. Part V analyzes the concept of mitigation and its constitutional and practical role in the sentencing process. Part VI explains the central role of the life history investigation in the development of a mitigation case. Part VII discusses the skills and abilities that are essential to the constitutionally effective performance of the mitigation function of capital defense teams. Finally, Part VIII explains the need for capital jurisdictions to provide adequate funding to fully staff capital defense teams.

Keywords: mitigation, defense, death penalty, capital punishment, capital cases, defense counsel, assistance of counsel, standards of performance

JEL Classification: K14, K40, K41, K42

Suggested Citation

O'Brien, Sean, When Life Depends on it: Supplementary Guidelines for the Mitigation Function of Defense Teams in Death Penalty Cases (July 8, 2008). Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 36, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1156924

Sean O'Brien (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

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