Mitigation: Utilizing the Forensic Mental Health Professional

AuthorElliot L. Atkins and Alan Ellis
The prior chapter serves as a general guide to all aspects of sentencing,
whereas the material in this chapter provides advice on how best to use an
expert to assist with mitigation.
• • •
With the exception of mandatory sentences and fixed-sentence plea
agreements, courts remain in the position to fashion a more “individu-
alized” sentence in response to what may be presented in the form of
mitigating evidence. Essentially, there are no limitations as to the type of
information that can be provided at sentencing. The trial court must give
defense counsel an adequate opportunity to present whatever information
counsel feels is relevant. (In the federal system, for example, 18 U.S.C.
3661 makes it clear that there can be no limitation as to what a judge may
consider at sentencing.) The intention of this chapter is to provide defense
counsel with methodological and conceptual information as well as
strategies that will enable him or her to more effectively educate the Court
about the client whose mental and emotional functioning may have con-
tributed, directly or indirectly, to the commission of the offense. More
specifically, it is our intention to provide an overview of the interface
Mitigation: Utilizing the
Forensic Mental Health
Elliot L. Atkins and Alan Ellis

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