Mitigation Matters: The Legal and Practical Relevance of Client Social History in Capital and Non-Capital Criminal Proceedings
- Semester: Fall 2018
- Course ID: 379M
- Credit Hours: 3
- Grading Method: Pass/Fail Allowed (JD only)
- Experiential Credit: 3 credit hours
- Cross-listed with other school
- Will not use floating mean GPA
- Upperclass-only elective
|WED||5:30 - 8:30 pm||TNH 2.139|
This course is designed to facilitate the development and refinement of knowledge and skills necessary to fulfill the mitigation function on capital or non-capital defense teams. The goals of the course are to introduce students to roles and responsibilities of mitigation specialists and sentencing advocates and facilitate the development of skills needed to work within interdisciplinary defense settings. The course will take a broad interdisciplinary approach to sentencing advocacy, providing students with an opportunity to learn legal frameworks that govern the presentation and consideration of mitigating evidence. Through both conceptual instruction and low-ratio supervision workshops, students will learn to develop a biopsychosocial history of the client, interview and forge relationships with clients and their family members, identify underlying causes of behavior, and facilitate restorative solutions for the client and community. Learning will culminate in the production of a compelling mitigation presentation.
This course will bring together interdisciplinary teams of social work undergraduate and masters-level students working in combination with UT law students. Given the interdisciplinary nature of mitigation work, a small number of seats will also be reserved for students from other disciplines including communication, education, psychology, sociology, and others. Students from different educational backgrounds and concentrations will work together in small diverse groups to produce and present assignments to the larger class. The course will be taught by a combination of lawyers and practicing mitigation specialists, and will feature guest lectures and presentations by leaders in the mitigation field.
At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate engagement, assessment, intervention and evaluation skills relevant to developing mitigating evidence in a capital or non-capital case; this may include document collection, interviewing, consulting with experts and other skills related to biopsychosocial history and investigation.
- Understand legal frameworks for the presentation and consideration of mitigation evidence.
- Constructively participate as a member of an interdisciplinary team while: retaining professional identity; brainstorming issues and problems that arise in the defense of criminal cases; and developing strategies to address them.
- Discuss and work through ethical issues that arise in capital and noncapital cases.
- Demonstrate how to incorporate multimedia strategies and tools to present the most compelling mitigation presentation in a given case.
- Encourage creativity and interdisciplinary conceptualization of overarching themes and stories that arise in capital and noncapital cases.
- Critically examine the context of systemic and structural oppression and other relevant social justice issues on the micro, mezzo, and macro level.
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