May 17, 2017

New ABA book helps litigators tell the client’s story in criminal and death penalty cases

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2017 — Top mitigation experts from across the nation with demonstrated practice wisdom collaborated to develop the new American Bar Association book, “Tell the Client’s Story: Mitigation in Criminal and Death Penalty Cases,” a practical resource guide designed to help practitioners to successfully litigate complex criminal cases. The guide also utilizes significant legal, social science, and behavioral science research findings that will inform practitioners on multi-disciplinary approaches to crafting courtroom strategy.

Using practical case studies, surveys, checklists, and appendices that are grounded in multi-professional scientific and clinical literatures, ”Tell the Client’s Story” will give readers approaches to cogently and persuasively present mitigation evidence to decision makers. In addition to understanding the law and ethics of mitigation, you will learn how to:

  • Develop consistent arguments for life imprisonment-- rather than death-- and mitigated sentences in other criminal cases through effective storytelling and theme-building;
  • Build productive relationships with clients, witnesses, and experts;
  • Utilize the Capital Jury Project's empirical findings for successful jury selection and persuasion;
  • Develop robust case theories;
  • Collect and organize information crucial for compelling mitigation;
  • Create a winning mitigation team and employ the cutting-edge methodology of structured case review;
  • Proactively manage media coverage for positive mitigation outcomes, and
  • Effectively present mitigation evidence at pretrial, voir dire, and penalty phases.

“Tell the Client’s Story” comes highly recommended by Carol Steiker, faculty co-director of the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School. “This well-organized and readable volume offers step-by-step guidance on how to theorize, collect, and present mitigation evidence,” she says. “The authors incorporate references to legal cases and standards, legal scholarship, and social science in a clear, concise, and accessible fashion.  No mitigation team should be without this volume, which is destined to become an instant “go-to” reference work for lawyers, mitigation specialists, and those who train or work with them.”

About the Authors

Edward C. Monahan is a member of the ABA Death Penalty Due Process Review Project Steering Committee, the ABA Government and Public Sector Lawyers Division Council, and served on the ABA Task Force on Preservation of the Justice System from 2011-12. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the National Association for Public Defense and chairs its Education Committee, a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and co-chairs its Subcommittee on Pretrial Release Advocacy.

James J. Clark, LCSW, Ph.D., is dean of the Florida State University College of Social Work. From 2012-2015, he served as the director of the School of Social Work at the University of Cincinnati, and was on the faculty of the University of Kentucky from 1991-2012, including service as the director of the Ph.D. program and as associate dean for Research.

Title:                            “Tell the Client’s Story: Mitigation in Criminal and Death Penalty Cases”
Publisher:                    ABA Publishing/Commission on Disability Rights
Product Code:             4410216
ISBN:                           978-1-63425- 649-0
Size:                            7 x 10
Price:                           $79.95
Orders:                        800-285-2221 or

Editor’s note: Review copies are available by sending an email to Francine Bennett at If you publish a review of this book, please send tear sheets or a copy for our files to Francine Bennett, American Bar Association, 1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW, #400, Washington, D.C., 20036.

With more than 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is one of the largest voluntary professional membership organizations in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.