In his April 17, 2022, article entitled Modern Sentencing Mitigation, John B. Melxner, Jr., states that mitigation is a central predictor of sentencing outcomes. Melxner took data points from mitigation memorandums such as personal mitigation, health, mental health, remorse, and offense and studied how each affects sentencing outcomes. He cross-analyzed how important it was to show evidence of each factor. Mitigation Specialists could have predicted the outcome of his studies.

Not surprisingly, his data observed that personal mitigation, health, and mental health had the greatest positive impact on sentencing and that the more words written about this evidence, the higher the positive impact. Sentencing memorandums must include as much personal mitigation as possible, followed by evidence of physical and/or mental health challenges throughout the client’s lifetime. Documenting each struggle, when it began, how the caretakers reacted to the need, and the outcome is significant and most often does lead to a reduction in sentence.

An example would be an emotional concern of the client around bullying in elementary school. The client informs her parents of this concern, and the parents fail to act or show support. In middle school, the client is failing two classes. The parents also fail to address grades or inquire about the client’s mental health. In high school, the client begins using drugs as a coping mechanism. Parents are aware of drug use but do nothing of substance to curtail the behavior or inquire about the client’s mental health. By documenting each of these stages and using real-life examples told in the client’s own words, the Mitigation Specialist is building personal mitigation and the neglected need for mental health services.

I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to write an impactful, detailed history of your client’s family of origin and any neglect. Remember, what may seem normal in one culture, can be viewed as neglectful in another. Some cultures don’t address mental or physical health unless there is an observable emergency. Despite cultural acceptance of neglect, your client more than likely went to school with others from different cultures and formed their framework of what is acceptable outside of the family unit. They knew others were treated differently in their homes.

Finding, providing, and creating an impactful personal mitigation memorandum along with evidence of mental or physical neglect can be very powerful. Today’s judges are more informed and more likely to consider personal history when formulating a sentence. If you’d like to see Melxner’s article, you can find it here: https://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/nulr/vol116/iss6/1/

If you want to utilize personal mitigation to obtain a lesser sentence for your clients, call the Downward Departure Specialists at 916-224-4680. We are experts and here to help.