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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3478

Title: Capital juries and objective mitigation: is disagreement with factually asserted mitigating evidence related to ultimate sentence recommendation?
Authors: Keesler, Michael Edward
Keywords: Clinical Psychology;Jury -- Psychological aspects;Jury -- United States -- Decision making
Issue Date: 3-May-2011
Abstract: Determining precisely what type of mitigating evidence will spare a capital defendant from the death penalty is the hallmark of capital litigation defense. That understanding has driven decades of research since the reemergence of the American death penalty in 1976, and it guides the actions of mitigation specialists. Despite the procedural rule that juries must consider mitigating evidence presented and then decide whether to assign it any weight, anecdotal evidence suggests that this may not be uniformly practiced. Rather, it is reportedly not uncommon for juries to disagree with mitigating factors that are essentially settled fact. The proposed study sought to empirically explore (1) how common or uncommon that practice is; (2) whether that practice is related to the ultimate sentence recommendation of life or death; and (3) whether the effect on sentence recommendation increases linearly with the increasing number of disagreed-to facts. Results indicated that (1) the practice may be more common than hypothesized; (2) when observed, disagreement with mitigators such as lack of significant criminal history or youth are significantly related to sentence recommendation; and (3) the effect may compound when multiple mitigators are considered together.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3478
Appears in Collections:Drexel Theses and Dissertations

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