The Marshall Project published a feature on mitigation specialists and their work, entitled The Mercy Workers. For attorneys familiar with the valuable work of mitigation specialists documenting childhood traumas, family dynamics, and systemic failures that shape the lives of criminal defendants, the feature will reinforce the importance of this type of expert assistance. For attorneys who haven’t yet worked with a mitigation specialist, the feature illustrates how a mitigation specialist can contribute to a defense team seeking a mitigated sentence. Some attorneys may not be aware that expert assistance of mitigation specialists is available even in non-capital cases by requesting funding from the court.
Vicky McGee coordinates the roster of mitigation specialists and is responsible for their training in NC. She is starting a new training group this month. Each new mitigation specialists will be partnered with an experienced mitigation specialist who will serve as a trainer and mentor. If you are interested in having a mitigation specialist assist on your case, you can email Vicky (email@example.com) with some case information, including the client’s name, the county, your perceptions of the client on your initial visit, did they graduate high school, mental health issues, where they grew up, and whether or not you have a trial date. Vicky is happy to locate the right mitigation specialist for your case.
After locating an appropriate mitigation specialist and securing their availability, expert assistance is requested from the court using the AOC-G-309 form and an ex parte motion. If you need assistance with this process, I am available to assist and can be reached at Sarah.R.Olson@nccourts.org.