Practically all capital defendants are poor people. Accordingly, the lawyer representing a capital defendant is usually court-appointed and has probably never tried a death case. In smaller communities, he or she may have represented a few criminal defendants, but does not specialize in criminal law. In larger metropolitan areas, overworked public defenders often times must shoulder the responsibilities of capital cases. Sobered by the possible sentence faced in the event of conviction, the defense lawyer seeks out new ideas, publications in the field, and practical advice or actual assistance from lawyers with expertise in trying capital cases. This article attempts to provide the ideas, sources and expertise sought by these attorneys, as well as by more experienced attorneys who are seeking out new approaches to improve their skills.

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