My eighteen-year career as Forensic Psychologist and Mitigation Specialist assigned to capital and other criminal/civil cases has provided me an incredible depth of experience working the worst cases associated with the highest stakes. With thousands of hours of interviews and innumerable reports written, I contract as an expert witness to legal teams to provide useful information that can be used for representation during trial or at sentencing. With expertise as a Forensic Psychologist, I understand the mental health issues that impact the case, and my skills can be used for a variety of investigative needs.
As mitigation has become recognized as a critical part of a capital trial, defense attorneys have turned to Mitigation Specialists to investigate a defendants’ background. Mitigation experts examine the defendant’s family narrative, medical history, educational and employment background, trauma history and any other element of an individual’s life that may convince the jury to return a sentence other than death. With this information, they assist defense counsel in presenting a coherent case for mitigation. The role of the Mitigation Specialist is so central to a client’s defense that the American Bar Association includes them in their guidelines on the defense in death penalty cases: “The defense team should consist of no fewer than two attorneys…an investigator, and a mitigation specialist.” In addition, by law, the defense team must retain an expert that understands mental health issues: “the defense team should contain at least one member qualified by training and experience to screen individuals for the presence of mental or psychological disorders or impairments.” As both a Forensic Psychologist as well as a Mitigation Expert, I can serve a dual role for your case. In over 18 years of experience, only once has the jury returned a sentencing of death.
Mitigation in non-capital sentencing cases can serve the following objectives:
Explains mental illness and potential neurological deficits that were a nexus with the criminal behavior.
Provides a nexus and evidence of extenuating circumstances leading up to the instant offense.
Explains substance abuse/dependence that was a nexus with the crime
Explains the defendant’s criminal acts and prior behavior in an understandable light given their past history, unique characteristics affecting their development, and exposure to heightened risk factors and deficits in protective factors or risk appraisal.