An Empirical Analysis of the Role of Mitigation in Capital Sentencing in North Carolina Before and After McKoy v. North Carolina (1990)

Janine Kremling, University of South Florida

This study focuses on the influence of mitigating circumstances on death penalty sentencing outcomes before and after the McKoy v. North Carolina (1990) decision. In this decision, the Supreme Court decided that the jurors did not have to find mitigating circumstances unanimously. This research explores whether that decision had an impact on the role of mitigators as predictors of sentencing in capital cases. Results are reported based on a sample of North Carolina first-degree murder cases where the state sought the death penalty. Logistic regression is used to determine the importance of mitigating circumstances as predictors of jury decision-making in North Carolina before and after the McKoy decision, controlling for the variety of other factors that influence sentencing outcomes.

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Updated 05/20/2006