The Champion

January 2009 , Page 16 

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A Practical Guide to Storytelling at Sentencing

By Thomas P. Gressette Jr.

Finding and articulating the best reasons for leniency at sentencing were often a struggle for me, especially if my client had pled guilty to a crime of violence or had an extensive record of previous convictions. As I began to have more success in the three to five minutes allowed for elocution at most sentencing hearings, I realized I was no longer just reciting facts about clients. I had begun to tell stories about people and how the events of all our lives shape us into who we are.

This article is about storytelling techniques and how they can help you demonstrate to a court that despite having been convicted, your clients still remain innocent in many ways.

At the outset it is important to note that stringing together a few facts about a defendant’s life is not telling that client’s story. Crafting and presenting a defendant’s story both require skill. Your clients stand to gain or lose freedom in direct proportion to the story you tell for them, so the importance of thoughtful pr

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