Is it a puddle or an ocean you're looking at?
Knowing depends on understanding the context.
Context can completely change our perspective.
It can be the most critical part of the text when telling the story of an individual and understanding who he/she has become.
A mitigation specialist understands this.
So do prosecutors.
That's why prosecutors focus on only the parts of the story that make your client look like the person they want to tell the jury s/he is.
It is also why a mitigation specialist is considered necessary for a client who is facing life consequence based sentences.
Your jury needs the rest of the story.
Make sure they get it!
"As a Witness Preparation Consultant who has prepared others to testify, been an expert witness, and a defendant on the stand myself, I have a healthy respect for what kind of butterflies can be involved when sitting in that box. I not only care about the emotional concerns of your client and the supporting witnesses that you will be using to make your case, I understand where they will be coming from very personally. I am trained to most efficiently help them be comfortable and clear on the stand, and it is my goal to help them tell their part of the story in such a way that they will feel heard and not mis-used by the prosecutor. If that is what you'd like to have happen as you present your case to the jury, I can help!"
What does a Mitigation Specialist do?
A mitigation specialist extends the reach of a thorough defense attorney's competence. Finding facts and documentable records are critical to the explanations and alternative considerations, which are part of the basis for both phases of capital defense team efforts.
Sadly sometimes a jury makes decisions in the sentencing phase prematurely and based on fear or repulsion of a given act rather than the larger scope of who that person is and has been. Someone who, if they have a chance to meet from a more balanced perspective, they would see value in.
This is especially sad in situations where the death penalty, with no explanation is sought for an alleged crime. These crimes do not occur in a vacuum, and unfortunately they both affect many people and are the result of many factors, not just one person's choices.
It is the valuable role of a mitigation specialist to step in to the situation, explore the fundamental complexity of both explanations, as to how the alleged event came to take place, and to assist the defense team in compiling a comprehensive understanding of their client's experiences and their impact on the current situation. Compiling that story from answers to questions such as the following:
- How does this client come into the picture?
- Why was he/she charged with this crime?
- What socio-cultural/psychological/emotional/developmental/phsyiological factors make the evidence against this client relevant to a defense?
- Which of those factors are relevant to the defense even though they were not in the evidence?
- Where do those items of interest intersect and how do we show their impact to this story?
- What parts of that story are important for the jury to understand and how do we most efficiently tell them this?
A mitigation specialist seeks to open up the story and bring context and clarify understanding of facts. Hopefully, enabling a more cathartic and informed decision than would occur without the larger story having been drawn from.
A client is far more than a defendant. Each person represents a lifetime of actions and experiences. This story contains a world of information that is relevant to the case and for the jury to consider. The review of that lifetime in documentable form and from interviews will be done in various ways by the defense team. It is the mitigation specialist's role to help find the themes and memorable/documented events that reinforce the defense's case.
In this way mitigation specialists also play an important role in finding new avenues of inquiry during trial preparations. Innocent clients facing death penalty charges, or charges of significant timespans especially need and deserve the dedication of a comprehensive approach. Either way the burden of telling the story requires a commitment to finding the perspective and meaningfulness in your client's experience. Each case is distinct and deserves a committed exploration. Highly competent attorneys resource mitigation specialists to find themselves prepared with more avenues than a narrower approach would have included.
I am a mitigation specialist who has the unique experience of having been in the defendant's seat and know what it is like to have your life on the line. I also know what it is like to be found not guilty, and then innocent. My commitment in any work I do reflects the awareness gained from that experience as well as the education and training I have had in the fields of Psychology, Education, and Counseling.
What does a Witness Preparation Consultant do?
Though limited, current research regarding preparing witnesses before trial has shown that preparation leads to greater witness confidence, credibility, and persuasiveness. Of course we know in general that preparation pays off. In a court room where great pressure is placed on expert testimony and defendants being able to tell their story it is especially critical for what they say and how they present non-verbally to be both in sync and on target with what they want to be communicating.
How to most effectively prepare for presentation is something that has been researched widely. There are a large number of techniques useful in making sure your case is presented as efficiently and clearly as possible by all witnesses who take the stand. The role of a Witness Preparation Consultant is to meet with you and then your witnesses and make sure they are able to present as comfortably on the stand talking to you, the prosecutor and the jury as if they were speaking to their family around the dining room table. IT CAN BE DONE!
© 2011 Julie Rea