The capital mitigation consists of evidence presented in a death penalty trial to receive a penalty other than the death penalty. In the shared trial typical of modern death penalty cases (in which a second conviction or sentencing phase only occurs if the suspect has been convicted of a crime for which the death penalty may be imposed), l Attenuation is usually introduced in the second phase of the trial. . The aim is to decrease the perceived need, desire or justification of the jury to hand down a death sentence. Under the death penalty laws that govern most states, jurors are tasked with “weighing” mitigating factors (those that reduce the tendency to punish the death penalty) against aggravating factors (which reinforce this tendency).
Purpose of Capital Mitigation
The death penalty targets only “the worst of the worst” crimes. In order for juries to determine whether a particular suspect deserves a death sentence, they must weigh the evidence that that murderer is in fact one of the worst of the worst (aggravating factors) against the reasons for it. save (mitigating factors). ). States differ in the specific circumstances which they define as aggravating factors, but generally include murders committed in the commission of another crime, murders committed for monetary gain, murders of police officers, multiple murders or other killings considered particularly aggravated. Mitigating factors are often related to the defendant’s background, including a history of mental illness or developmental disability, previous trauma suffered by the defendant, or lack of a criminal record. An accused who has faced a life of physical or emotional disabilities may be considered less fully responsible for his criminal acts.
Since mitigation is recognized as an essential part of an immobilization process, defense lawyers have turned to mitigation specialists to investigate the background of the accused. Mitigation specialists look at suspects’ family history, medical history, education, and work history, as well as any other element in a person’s life that could convince the jury to hand down punishment other than death. With this information, they help the defense present a coherent mitigation case. The role of the risk minimization specialist is so central to a client’s defense that the American Bar Association includes them in its guidelines on defense in death penalty cases: “The defense team should be composed of at least two lawyers … an investigator and a specialist. (Guideline 4.1, page 952) Commenting on this guideline, the ABA says:
“A mitigation specialist is also an indispensable member of the defense team during all critical proceedings. Mitigation specialists have clinical and intelligence-gathering skills and training that most lawyers simply lack. domestic violence) that the suspect may never have disclosed; they have the clinical skills to recognize such things as congenital, mental or neurological disorders, to understand how these conditions may have affected the development and behavior of the suspect, and to identify the most appropriate experts to investigate or testify in his last name. (Commentary on guideline 4.1, page 959)
Attenuating evidence from the defense team is presented during the sanctioning phase of the trial, after aggravating evidence from the prosecution. Juries are instructed to consider both sets of factors, but not just to count the number of factors on each side and to determine the sanction based on whether or not there are aggravating or mitigating factors. Rather, jurors are expected to use their own judgment in deciding which factors prevail. If the aggravating circumstances are stronger, jurors may opt for a death sentence, but if the mitigating circumstances are more compelling, they should choose a sentence of life imprisonment.
Legality of Capital Mitigation
The explicit use of mitigation as a key element in the capital punishment process was first introduced by US Gregg v. Adopted by the Supreme Court in Georgia (1976) and its accompanying cases. Here the Court, the court’s Furman v. Georgia (1972) approved a number of new state death penalty laws that came into effect in response to his earlier statement that the death penalty was unconstitutional as it was then practiced in the United States. Gregg’s view endorsed a death penalty framework that emerged in many of the revised state capital punishment laws that the Court examined and derived from the American Institute of Law’s Model Penal Code (1962). The Model Penal Code provided a list of mitigating and aggravating circumstances that jurors suggested they should “take into account” when deciding whether to impose the death penalty. The court accepted this approach as an acceptable way of guiding the jury’s discretion.
Two years after Gregg, in Lockett v. Ohio (1978), the Supreme Court made a broad comment on the extent of the acceptable capital reduction, stating that the prisoner (either a judge or a jury at the time) in a death penalty case. As mitigating factors, “it should not be prevented from considering any aspect of a defendant’s character … where defense is the basis for less punishment than death.” In a long series of cases that followed, the Court continued to uphold the principle that capital defendants should be allowed to provide very broad (indeed seemingly limitless) extenuating evidence. These opinions have repeatedly established the right to provide a wide range of mitigating evidence by declaring any law, procedure or decision unconstitutional that prevents or limits the defendants from doing so. However, the Court still did not establish any requirements, standards or guidelines as to whether and when capital attorneys should give extenuating testimony and when to implement it (or what remedy, if any, the defendants will be entitled to if their lawyers do not). As a result, although defendants have virtually unlimited rights to provide extenuating evidence, many lawyers – as they lack training, experience, or resources – have been able to offer little or no to their clients.
Nearly 25 years after Gregg was ruled, the Court took steps to resolve this issue. Therefore, Williams v. In Taylor (2000), a capital defense lawyer in a death penalty case annulled the death penalty for failing to investigate, consolidate and present significant and available mitigating evidence. The Court found in particular that the defense attorney provided “ineffective assistance to the lawyer” because “he did not carry out a thorough investigation into the defendant’s background”. As a result, the accused did not reveal and present potentially significant mitigating evidence at the trial, including the fact that the accused had a “nightmarish childhood” and that the criminal was raised by negligent and physically abusive alcoholic parents. he was mentally disabled at home and at the border. The trial lawyer was also unable to provide the available evidence of positive prison regulation, including the defendant’s previous good behavior in prison and the extremely low potential for violence in structured institutional settings.
In several subsequent decisions, the court reaffirmed the constitutional mandate that capital lawyers should diligently pursue and present the existing mitigation on behalf of their clients. Perhaps the most important of these cases, Wiggins v. Smith (2003) stated that defense lawyers should research and analyze social history evidence and provide mitigating evidence when appropriate. Wiggins stressed that the evidence with a seriously problematic history is highly relevant to what is called an “assessment of the moral guilt of a defendant,” and acknowledged that when faced with such evidence, juries could possibly return a lesser sentence than death. The Court concluded that the American Bar Association Guidelines (2003) for authorized representation in major cases helped establish “valid professional norms”, thus tasked defense lawyers to investigate, analyze, and to consider “all reasonably available extenuating evidence”. the accused “medical and educational background, employment and educational background, family and social background, previous adult and youth correctional experience, and religious and cultural influences.”