Danny Masterson Sentencing Post-Mortem


A jury convicted Danny Masterson of two counts of forcible rape in California state court, and the judge just sentenced him to thirty years.  It was a daunting task for his lawyers, because Masterson maintained his innocence to the bitter end.  If the lawyers could have successfully threaded that needle, then Masterson would have potentially received fifteen years instead of thirty.

Unfortunately, the sentencing presentation hit all the wrong notes.  Moreover, there was massive blowback over the sentencing letters submitted on his behalf, particularly the ones from his famous friends, including Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis. The letters did more harm than good, not only for Mr. Masterson, but for those who, with all good intentions, were offering their support.

Therefore, join us for a whole lotta teachable moments as we dissect every aspect of Masterson’s Sentencing with our good friend and colleague, Mark Allenbaugh.


    • Quality over quantity when it comes to sentencing letters;
    • How to tell a mitigation story for a client who maintains their innocence at sentencing;
    • How lawyers must lead and actively manage the mitigation narrative, particularly when it comes to sentencing letters;
    • How tone deafness can result in the deafening sound of your bell being rung on the big day;
  • The dangerous territory of using your kids/family as a sympathy ploy at sentencing;
  • What we can learn from how the victims’ statements far outweighed the supporters statements in terms of their emotional power and persuasion.




We talked a lot about a great article by a former federal Judge, Mark Bennett about his five rules for sentencing allocution.  To download the article, click below:


We also circled back on my “3Rs” of sentencing storytelling.  If you’d like a free copy of the article I wrote for the Champion (NACDL) on the subject, click here:




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