“Investigations into mitigating evidence should comprise efforts to discover all reasonable available mitigating evidence and evidence to rebut any aggravating evidence that may be introduced by the prosecutor.”
Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Supreme Court of the United States
What is Criminal Defense Mitigation?
Defense lawyers rely upon the MITIGATION INVESTIGATORS to find and flesh out the mitigation fact patterns that will be presented at trial. The failure of the mitigation investigator to perform their stressful, expansive, and detailed tasks can mean the difference between life and death.
Criminal Defense Mitigation is detailed research into the client’s past. It is the history that reflects early life, school experiences and adolescence tracing factors that affect the client’s physical, social, emotional and psychological condition today. We cannot state too often for both counsel and defendant how important the collecting of this information is to help judges and juries see the defendant as a person with unique life experiences and family history and coming from an environment that influenced how they came to where they are, and not just as a criminal.
Each MITIGATION INVESTIGATOR must identify, locate, and retrieve all the records ever generated about the defendant, along with all the records that have been generated about their immediate and extended family members. Depending on the severity of the case these include but are not limited to (for the defendant as well as family members):
* birth certificates
* hospital birth records
* medical records, including private physicians, clinics and hospitals.
* school records
* social service records
* records from agencies and foster homes
* juvenile records
* adult criminal records
* probation and parole records
* employment records
* psychological and psychiatric records
* military records
The job does not end with gathering boxes and boxes of documents. The mitigation investigator undertakes comprehensive, lengthy, and sensitive interviews that often deal with personal, private issues with the client and as many individuals as possible who have known the client, such as:
* family members
* church members
* Sunday School teachers
* spouses, ex-spouses
* boyfriends/girlfriends and ex-boyfriends/girlfriends
* mental health providers (psychiatrists, psychologists)
* social services personnel
* military peers
* probation officers
* parole officers