Alan W. Clarke


Capital murder trials present a unique challenge to defense counsel. Many capital defendants are demonstrably guilty of heinous crimes, and a single-minded defense concentrating solely on acquittal in the face of overwhelming evidence of guilt will often alienate the jury. The lawyer who focuses entirely on the guilt stage without attending to the sentencing stage may be consigning his client to the electric chair. This article deals with the sentencing phase of a capital murder trial, where life imprisonment, the jury's only alternative to the death penalty, represents a victory for the defense.