Counsel’s Control over the Presentation of Mitigating Evidence during Capital Sentencing
The Sixth Amendment gives a defendant the right to control his defense and the right to a lawyer’s assistance. A lawyer’s assistance, however, sometimes interferes with a defendant’s control over his case. As a result, the Supreme Court, over time, has had to delineate the spheres of authority that pertain to counsel and defendant respectively. The Court has not yet decisively assigned control over mitigating evidence to either counsel or defendant. This Note argues that counsel should control the presentation of mitigating evidence during capital sentencing. First, and most importantly, decisions concerning the presentation of mitigating evidence are best characterized as strategic, and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel allocates strategic decisions to attorneys. Second, the criminal justice system’s need for reliable and legitimate outcomes – a need that reaches its zenith during capital sentencing – outweighs a capital defendant’s limited claims to autonomy.