When Justice Depends on It: The Need for Professional Standards for Mitigation in All Criminal Cases


Mitigation has been an integral part of death penalty defense for decades and there are minimum standards that apply in that context.  When an early and thorough mitigation workup occurs, good things happen.

But, many non-capital attorneys don’t recognize the need to adopt this approach in their everyday criminal matters.  Without good mitigation, even in non-cap cases, the sentening results will almost certainly be disastrous.

It’s time to make MITIGATION a priority for every defense team.   

To that end, a phenomenal and deeply important new article makes the case for the creating minimum standards of care for developing mitigation in non-capital cases.   In this week’s set for sentencing, we talk to the fantastic four authors of this piece, Elizabeth Vartkessian, Thea Posel, Anthony Ginez, and Lela Hubbard!


  • Going back three generations to develop mitigation;
  • Need for repeated and face-to-face interviews;
  •  The need for a team approach to mitigation;
  •  The importance of “coalition building”;
  •  Anticipated resistance to uniform mitigation standards in non-cap cases;
  • How uniform standards will force more funding for mitigation;
  • How uniform standards will give attorneys more support for second-look cases;
  • How to bridge the gap between the data and the narrative;
  •  Preventing mitigation “backfire”;
  • Where we are in the process of securing uniform standards and how you can help.




Article under consideration:


Capital guidelines For Mitigation:



Campaign for fair sentencing of youth: https://cfsy.org/

Community Resource Initiative  (now “Full Picture Justice”)  https://www.fullpicturejustice.org/about

Advancing Real Change (ARC)  https://advancechange.org/


FIRST EPISODE WITH DR. LIZ!  As we discussed, Dr. Vartkessian was the VERY FIRST guest on Set for Sentencing.  For a stroll down memory lane, here is that link:


Check out this episode!

Sharing is caring!

You might also like these recent podcasts