Mitigation Specialist: Mitigation, also referred to as “mitigating factors” or “mitigating evidence,” is evidence the defense can present in the sentencing phase of a trial to provide reasons why the defendant should not receive a particular sentence. This evidence, which can include mental problems, remorse, youth, childhood abuse or neglect, a minor role in the crime, or the absence of a prior criminal record, may reduce the culpability of the defendant in the crime or may provide other reasons for preferring a more lenient sentence.
The mitigation specialist compiles a comprehensive and well-documented investigative report of the defendant based on an exhaustive investigation; analyzes the significance of the information, including effect on personality and behavior; finds mitigating themes in the client’s life history. As mitigation has become recognized as a critical part of a trial, defense attorneys have turned to mitigation specialists to investigate defendants’ backgrounds. Mitigation specialists examine defendants’ family history, medical history, educational and employment background, and any other element of an individual’s life that may convince the jury to return a more lenient sentence. 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.