U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Consturction of a Mitigation (From Psychology, Law and Legal Processes, P 152-164, 1979, by D P Farrington, et al - See NCJ - 70738)

NCJ Number
70745
Author(s)
J Shapland
Date Published
1979
Annotation
Results are reported from a study that examined how British lawyers construct a mitigation (a presentation to the court on a client's behalf at the sentencing stage of a trial).
Abstract
Thirty lawyers with 1 to 13 years of experience were interviewed and presented with briefs of cases for which they were asked to construct mitigation, including topics covered in the interview with the client, the mitigating factors identified, and sentence recommendations. In terms of the client interview, it was found that the information previously prepared by other professional (solicitor or police) was instrumental in determining some of the questions asked by the lawyer in the client interview. There was considerable consensus between lawyers on these questions; however, there was considerable disparity regarding other questions asked. In the construction of the mitigation, there was great disparity over the mitigating factors put forward in the same cases, with 94 separate factors used by one or more lawyers. Selectivity in discerning mitigating factors from the total body of information was apparently the main reason for the disparity. There was also considerable disagreement on sentence recommendations, with a split occurring mainly between probation and a suspended sentence. This may represent a split between dealing with the problem of the offender and considering primarily the severity of the offense. This research is a necessary preliminary to understanding what happens in actual court situations. Tabular data, notes, and two references are provided. For related documents, see NCJ70738-44 and 7074648.