We provide direct legal services to individuals facing the death penalty and other extreme sentences. As trained Mitigation Specialists, our work is conducted in accordance with the American Bar Association guidelines and relevant case law.
Under the ABA Guidelines, mitigation is a “constitutional mandate that the sentencer consider all evidence in support of a sentence other than death.” This requires investigation of all aspects of the client’s character and history.
As many point out, it is an impossible task to heal the wounds of a victim and their family. However, in supporting the life of an accused offender, the door is open to the possibility of accountability, reconciliation, and forgiveness. Mitigation as a means of achieving life-affirming verdicts, provides room for a broader understanding of the systemic and social dynamics that play a role in making our society violent.
Through the first phase of trial, jurors heard again and again about the horrible acts our client had committed. Jurors later reported that after this phase, they were convinced our client should be sentenced to death. The second phase of trial was a chance to share our client’s story with the jury so they could feel the weight of the life they held in their hands. We went back three generations with the jurors to tell this family’s story. History matters, and what happens to one generation informs how the next generation will develop, struggle and thrive.
Between the first and second World Wars, Japan launches a full scale invasion of China.This forces both sets of our client’s grandparents to flee China for Northern Vietnam.
In 1954 Vietnam was split. The communists took over North Vietnam and our client’s grandparents are again forced to flee, this time to refugee camps in southern Vietnam. Our client’s mother was born in 1956 in the refugee camp. She spent the first 11 years of her life there until she was sent to the coast to work in a hair salon and learn to cut hair.
In 1968, our client’s mother and father lived through the bloodiest war in Vietnam, the Tet Offensive. Communists moved into their home and their parents were arrested and jailed. Our client's father went on the run from the communists.
In 1972, our client’s parents met, and married. Our client’s mother moved to Saigon where she gave birth to our client during the fall of Saigon.
Shortly after the fall of Saigon, our client's father escaped Vietnam, but our client and his mother were captured during their escape attempt. Several escape attempts and four years later, our client and his mother successfully fled Vietnam by boat for a refugee camp in Thailand. From this camp, they were able to enter the United States and rejoin our client’s father.