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The Champion

July 2018 , Page 42 

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Using Lessons from the Capital Arena for Sentencing Advocacy in All Cases

By James E. Boren and Alyson Lang

Defense lawyers in noncapital cases can learn from the strategies developed during several decades of capital representation. They can incorporate those strategies into sentencing advocacy for clients charged with drug offenses, burglary, noncapital murder, or any other crime.

Humanizing the Client

In 1976 when Gregg1 reinstated the death penalty, a whole new world was created for the capital defense community. There were to be two phases of a trial, the guilt phase and the penalty phase. No one had any idea what should be done in a penalty phase, and it took decades for the capital defense community to develop and refine skills for that portion of the case. The only issue at that point of the case was to determine whether the appropriate sentence was life in prison or death for the defendant, who had been convicted unanimously by a jury of 12 people, all of whom had already said they believed in and would impose the death penalty under appropriate circumstances.

“Winning” was redefined i

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