Don't Kill My Friend: The Attorney-Client Relationship in Capital Cases and its Effect on Jury Receptivity to Mitigation Evidence
138 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2005
Date Written: 2003
The United States Supreme Court has placed confidence in the ability and willingness of capital jurors to consider mitigation evidence during sentencing deliberations as one constitutional protection against the arbitrary imposition of the death penalty. Defense teams in capital trials generally seek to maximize jurors' consideration of mitigation evidence during sentencing. Using data from the Capital Jury Project, this dissertation examines three factors which may influence the receptivity of jurors to mitigation. The findings are based on multinomial and ordinal logit as well as ordinary least squares regression analyses involving data obtained from interviews of 771 jurors who served in capital trials. After appropriate control measures were imposed, the analysis revealed that capital jurors are more receptive to mitigation evidence when they view the relationship between the attorney and client as warm and friendly, and when they view the defendant as possessing human qualities. Capital jurors are less receptive to mitigation evidence where they report the attorney-client relationship as a close working relationship and where the juror has prematurely decided (before the beginning of the penalty phase) that death is the appropriate sentence. These findings demonstrate that jurors' receptivity to mitigation evidence can be influenced by the manner in which the attorney and client interact during a capital trial.
Keywords: Capital punishment, mitigation, attorney-client relationship, capital representation
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