Introduction: Re-Stating the Standard of Practice for Death Penalty Counsel: The Supplementary Guidelines for the Mitigation Function of Defense Teams in Death Penalty Cases (PDF)

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As the Anglo-American legal world has understood for centuries, if a criminal justice system that includes capital punishment is to be a just one it must at the least insure that the defendant receives truly effective defense representation. Since modern American capital punishment systems were reconfigured in 1976, they have seen a strong consensus coalesce around the elements of such representation. That consensus was embodied in guidelines issued by the American Bar Association (“ABA”) in 1989 and 2003 after extended consultation with practitioners and professional groups, and the courts have repeatedly recognized those guidelines as articulating the standard of care that capital defense counsel are to follow.

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