Disrupting the Dehumanizing Sentencing Process


I can think of no better guest to officially launch the Set For Sentencing Podcast than the incomparable Liz Vartkessian!

As the Executive Director of Advancing Real Change, Inc., she understands that narrative is everything at sentencing.  She knows that our clients are more than their worst deed, and more than just a stack of paper in a file.  Her amazing organization takes an undeniably essential humanistic approach to the development of crucial sentencing mitigation in capital and serious non-capital cases.

I have learned so much from Liz and the fantastic trainings her organization provides over the years, and I can’t wait for you to meet her.


  • How narrative is everything when it comes to sentencing mitigation;
  • How to mine for the raw materials of a winning mitigation narrative;
  • The fantastic work Advancing Real Change does in capital and non-cap cases;
  • Some basic, but essential, things a lawyer can do to develop a humanizing mitigation narrative;
  • The importance of understanding and recognizing trauma;
  • Knowing when you do and do not need an expert;
  • Dr. Vartkessian’s groundbreaking research on the Capital Jury Project and what motivates juries to impose a life, rather than death, sentence;
  • Advice to help lawyers communicate the humanity of their client to the decision maker(s) in their case;
  • How to prepare innocent clients for allocution;
  • What working with those who have committed murder can teach us about justice (and Liz’s book in the works on that very subject).


RECORD RELEASE FORMS:  As Dr. Vartkessian discusses, one simple thing a lawyer can do is keep a release of records in every new file. That way, your client can sign releases at the outset and you and your team can get started on record collection.  Even if you don’t recognize the need to find a particular record, you will be happy to have these signed releases when something comes up and you need to act fast. 


Advancing Real Change, Inc. Website

More information on the Capital Jury Project

Listen to more from the Set for Sentencing podcast

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