Can A Mitigation Consultant Handle Non-Capital Sentencing Issues?
The answer is an unqualified “yes.” The very same skills and background described above can be equally valuable in certain non-capital cases as well. While, in some jurisdictions, judges in indigent cases might be reluctant to authorize retention of a mitigation specialist in a non-capital matter, each case should be considered on its own merits, taking into account the nature and circumstances of the offense, the potential penalty the client is facing, and any unusual or unique aspects of the person’s character or background that the sentencing body should consider.
In general, mitigation specialists enter the field from one of three disciplines: active or former capital defense practice; social work (forensic, clinical, etc.); or the field of defense investigation. When seeking a mitigation specialist, no one discipline is necessarily preferable over another. A former attorney may be best suited for a case in which counsel of record are less experienced; an unusually tangled family tree may call for a social worker’s perspective. Each of those fields requires its own unique skill set; the facts as you first obtain them will guide you in making the call. Keep in mind that the staffing of a capital case is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Each team member should be selected with an eye toward maximizing, not only his or her own personal effectiveness, but that of the team as a whole.