The purpose of this article is to begin to sociologically define a legal standard for the courts of mitigating factors that should influence the sentence of death. The article also describes a method of inquiry that makes this definition reasonable. The material presented is intended to serve as a guide for the investigation of mitigating circumstances for the sentencing phase of a death penalty trial. This paper outlines a method of historical investigation that has proven effective in development of evidence at the sentencing phase of the trial. It is useful both as a foundation for expert sociological testimony, as well as providing a firm foundation for experts in other disciplines.

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