Mitigating Death

55 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2010

See all articles by Emily Hughes

Emily Hughes

University of Iowa - College of Law


Capital mitigation specialists are critical members of the capital defense team. Their job involves investigating the life history of the defendant in order to develop a comprehensive defense against execution at the sentencing phase of a capital trial. To develop the life history of the defendant, capital mitigation specialists must uncover as much information as they can about the defendant from the defendant’s family, friends, and virtually any other person in the defendant’s life. This Article examines the role of mitigation specialists who have formal social work training, exploring how legal ethics and world views they experience on capital defense teams interact with ethical norms and world views they learn as social workers. By understanding how ethical norms and world views from law and social work interact, this Article strives to ensure that interdisciplinary capital defense teams anticipate and resolve ethical conflicts in order to safeguard the capital defendant’s constitutional right to effective assistance of counsel.

Suggested Citation

Hughes, Emily, Mitigating Death. Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 18, p. 337, 2009, Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-10-03, Available at SSRN:

Emily Hughes (Contact Author)

University of Iowa - College of Law ( email )

Melrose and Byington
Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

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