Mitigation Specialists develop individual sentencing plans for attorneys whose Clients face conviction and possible incarceration. These individualized evaluations are developed to offer alternatives to prosecutors during plea negotiations, in the pre-sentence phase, and to courts at sentencing. Focusing on: trauma and/or abuse history; family background; substance abuse history; mental health treatment; educational and/or work history; victim restitution and future conduct, mitigation evaluations help the court to understand the Client’s life story and offer alternatives to lengthy sentences.
Mitigation has always been an essential element of capital defense, and since Wiggins v. Smith, (2003), Mitigation Specialists have been deemed a necessity. Mitigation Specialists have the expertise to be empathic investigators, searching into the myriad of multigenerational, environmental, and biological issues, which shape the Client’s life experience. A mitigation investigation is an exhaustive and comprehensive investigation into the Client’s life history, analyzing the significance and impact of the information obtained on the Client and their development. Relevant emotional, psychological, physiological, and neurological deficits are explored to reveal the impact upon a developing individual. Effectively humanizing and establishing compassion in their portrayal to the court, a Mitigation Specialist assembles relevant mitigating factors, while also identifying the need for expert assistance through supplemental testing and evaluation. Mitigation specialists are considered part of the core defense team and should be involved from the outset. As part of this team effort, the Mitigation Specialist works to promote and contribute to a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach in the representation of the Client. Helping to facilitate communication by acting as liaisons between the wide variety of organizations, individuals and service providers involved throughout the Client’s life history, Mitigation Specialists enhance the interdisciplinary effort through the coordination of the defense team, helping to ensure that the team develops a trusting and consistent relationship with the Client, while also providing insight into the relevant social and mental health factors.
As both a Mitigation Specialist and Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Elliott possesses a unique set of clinical skills and training, explaining the emotional, psychological, physiological and neurological impact of experience upon a developing individual.
Mitigation services include:
- Collateral interviews
- Location of experts
- Mental health issues, psychological testing and/or diagnoses
- Record review, findings and development of defense themes
- Development of demonstrative exhibits
- Competency issues or concerns
- Observing and facilitating the Client’s mental health
- Ensuring routine contact with the Client, family and key witnesses
- Monitoring the Client for problems such as suicide; competency; collaborative effort and instructions; or their ability to make decisions