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The Champion

March 2017 , Page 52 

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Winning at Sentencing With Theories, Themes, and the Creative Demonstration of Truth

By Doug Passon

Effective advocates understand that emotion-based storytelling is the key to persuasion at every stage of a legal proceeding. Unfortunately, no matter how talented defense attorneys are, most clients are going to be sentenced for something. Usually, the person determining the client’s fate is a judge who has seen and heard it all. In some jurisdictions, and in death penalty cases, the deciders are jurors who have just been exposed to a parade of “horribles” during trial. No matter the audience, the defense team’s job is to craft a true and moving story and tell it well. This is the way the defense wins at sentencing.

This article makes the case that before forging ahead with any contested sentencing, lawyers must first articulate the theory of their sentencing argument. Only then will their sentencing stories and the tools they need to tell them begin to take shape. After laying this solid story foundation, lawyers must then do the hard creative work of fleshing out the d

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