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Understanding Defense-Initiated Victim Outreach and Why it is Essential in Defending a Capital Client.

Branham, Mickell
June 4, 2015

Source: (2008) Hafstra Law Review. 36(3):1019-1033.

A handful of lawyers, investigators, and mitigation specialists in the
capital defense community have for many years reached out to the
survivors in their cases. Most, however, have not. Within the past ten
years, that has begun to change. Beginning with the defense of Timothy
McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing case,4 the capital defense community has begun to develop a systematic practice of reaching out to
the survivors in capital cases. Rooted in traditional notions of restorative
justice and conflict transformation, defense-initiated victim outreach
(“DIVO”)5 as a method of engaging in dialogue with surviving family
members has grown and continues to evolve. One of the primary lessons
learned during this evolution has been that the interests of the defense
team and the interests of the victims are far from being mutually
exclusive. In fact, once dialogue begins, it is hard to believe that this
natural flow of human interaction was previously untapped. Victims
have questions only the offender can answer. Victims want to be heard
not only by the community at large, but specifically by the offender and
his or her representatives. The offender is the one the victims want to tell
about their pain. Victims need to be heard, and they need to be heard by
the offenders and by the capital defense community. (excerpt)


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