Capital / Death Penalty Mitigation
Clients charged with first degree murder and facing the death penalty need a strong advocate to research and gather life history, family background, social history, and mental health issues to formulate a compelling theme of mitigation. Donna will summarize and organize the medical and mental health history, create timelines, multigenerational histories and genograms.
She has examined a plethora of social issues for her clients and successfully identifies appropriate expert witnesses to evaluate the client. She maintains a diverse list of experts from which to select for each individual case. Donna gathers and reviews records and conducts extensive interviews to develop a mitigation narrative that creates an effective theme of mitigation leading to life for her clients.
In 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court rendered an opinion in Graham v. Florida that Juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without parole for crimes that are not murder. A life without parole sentence in a non-homicide conviction was considered cruel and unusual punishment for a juvenile because kids are different and can change.
In 2012 the court decided in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life without parole for juveniles, even homicide, was unconstitutional.
Mitigation investigations are an essential component of juvenile resentencing cases for both Miller and Graham clients.
Effective mitigation can assist the defense in working towards downward departure for sentencing considerations for non-homicide cases.