Hi, it’s Justin Paperny coming to you today from Lexington, Kentucky where I’ve been in the last few days with a wonderful client, wonderful family. Excited to get home. But before I do, I wanted to share, film this quick video. I was asked a few days ago, what’s the difference between a federal prison consultant and mitigation? Because in a lot of the scopes of work that we create, a lot of the work that we do has very little to do with federal prison consulting. Admittedly, when white collar defendants reach out to schedule a call or text or we speak, most of the initial questions have to do with federal prison and it makes sense.

Before I went to federal prison, I had so many questions about what life in prison would be like, but I hadn’t even pled guilty. I hadn’t done a PSR. I hadn’t been sentenced.

Many of you watching this may get in trouble, but you may never go to prison. It could be civil issues. Who knows. So I want to help you understand the difference between mitigation and federal prison consulting. When I speak of mitigation, as a mitigation consultant, I’m referring to content you need to create as a defendant.

So let’s talk about that for a moment. I’m not referring to content that you pay your lawyers to create. So your lawyers in time may create what’s called a sentencing memorandum that’s going to articulate why you’re worthy of leniency. It’s going to include a lot of boilerplate stuff judges have seen millions of times. When I refer to content or mitigation, it’s work that you put in through your own efforts. As I shared in that video with Dr. Phil last year, it’s conveying four points: remorse, lessons learned, what you’ll do moving forward and why you’ll never return to a courtroom. Your own efforts. Okay, so there’s a lot of confusion when a defendant or a potential client will call me and say, “Justin, I’m so excited to work with your team and I want to go and I spoke with my lawyer, he said, we do that.” I’m like, “Do what?” “Well, we write that for you.” “Write what?” “We write the sentencing memorandum.”

Sentencing Mitigation vs Federal Prison Consulting

Let me be clear: Sentencing Mitigation is not outsourcing all of the work to your lawyers. If you want to outsource all of the work to your lawyers, you’re not an ideal fit for our company because as I filmed in the video of last month or two, I filmed this video what happened after I left federal prison? I shared the story when I came home, I had no clients, no money, nothing to do. I attended hundreds of sentencing hearings and I collected a lot of data and that data from judges at these hearings told me they want to hear from the defendant through their own words. They do not want work outsourced to a lawyer or as Judge Bough told my partner Michael Santos in a video, “One to 2% of the remorse component at sentencing comes from the lawyer.” Why? They’re paid to say it.

So let me help you understand sentencing mitigation. I’m not referring to what lawyers write. A few days ago for an example, on my way to Tennessee, a client said, “My lawyer wants me to spend like $8,500 on a letter that an expert gambler coach is going to write,” and my client has a documented history of gambling that led to breaking the law, stealing, cheating. He’s going to go to prison for awhile, he knows it. But in the narrative that we created, through the Straight A Guide program that he completed, through the letters that we compiled it articulates, “Your honor, I’m not blaming my conduct on gambling, but it’s a symptom of what got me here, it contributed to a lack of my judgment. So I want you to know why I go to gamblers anonymous three days a week. I want you to know why I will never place another bet. I want you to know that I’m not saying I’m sorry simply because I got caught, but because I want to demonstrate through my own words whether I’m worthy of leniency.”

So I said to my client, “I believe defendants need to exercise their own judgment. You have the resources. If you want to give $8,500 to a gambling expert to write a letter, attesting to your problem, you can. It’s a third party writer who’s paid to write about why you’re worthy of leniency, who’s paid to write about that you have a problem and you’re getting treatment. You can do that.” I’m of the opinion it is incredibly more impactful that our client has taken the time to demonstrate what he’s learned through his gambling problem and how he will never return to another casino or how hard it will be for him tomorrow to not bet on the 49ers in the Super Bowl. It’s more impactful coming from the defendant.

So that’s what I wish for all of you with respect to sentencing mitigation. It is content that you create, not a third party person writing about how awesome you are.

You shouldn’t go to prison because you have kids. It’s you. Certainly we help clients create that content, but it’s collaborative. It’s written in their voice. You may not have built your home, but it’s still your home. There has been some help. We may help you, but it’s your words, it’s your story. We help put it to paper. That is the critical component. If you are to obtain what all of you want if you’re a white collar defendant. You want the shorter sentence in the most favorable institution. In our experience, it’s going to come down to what you do, the efforts that you put in.

I hope you have a great white collar defense lawyer. I hope you work well with your lawyer, but I continue to hear potential clients and even clients say, “Well, my lawyer says he does that.” Yes, they’re paid to say it. They’re writing about you in their own words. It’s got to come from you and that really transitions to federal prison consulting. Federal prison consultant versus sentencing mitigation. Federal prison consulting is down the road and I know many of you have questions. I film some videos on it. Many of you asked me to fill more. I understand the goal of what is prison like, the jobs, the toilets, the bunks, halfway house, RDAP, First Step Act. I understand it. You should be focused on different things if you are earlier in the journey.

So I’m really a mitigation consultant or specialist all the way up until sentencing. The creation of that content through your own words demonstrating why you will never return to a courtroom, through your own words and as I wrap up, it’s a good thing. I know I ramble in these videos. I have to wrap up so I can catch my connecting flight to Dallas before I get home to Los Angeles. I’ve shared this story of a client I had who had a federal public defender and I know the media, CNN, Fox, Washington Post. I’m grateful for the coverage, but many of them box me in as the pricey consultant that helps the rich stay out of prison, which is absurd because even if you had $1 billion, it could never compete with the endless resources of the US government.

Defendants are starting the fourth quarter down 35 to nothing I like to say, which is more the reason you need to mitigate.

Create content to show what you’ve learned. Just don’t outsource it to the lawyer and if you think someone else is more equipped to help you produce the content than us, great. If you don’t think me, or Michael Santos, or our team is the right way, great. Review how well someone writes. Look at their testimonials, look at outcomes that they’ve produced. If you want to go down a different road, great. Just work to create that content.

So I shared this story of a client who had a federal public defender and we’ve had a thousand clients and more than 150 of them have been with federal public defenders. They may not have had 50 or $100,000 to give to a lawyer, but they had resources to retain our team and I shared this story of a client who had a federal public defender. He got sentenced the same days as his co-defendant who had the very high priced lawyer. The $1,000 an hour, the big bucks, the big numbers, and I’m sure they worked hard to prove worthy of the retainer and the hourly rate, but it was a big number. At sentencing, our client, the public defender client, got a better outcome than his co-defendant who gave all the money to the big law firm. Now I’m not impugning the character of these lawyers at the big law firm. I’m sure they did their job well. I’m sure they wrote a beautiful memorandum that was a full of boiler plate stuff judges have seen 75 million times. I’m sure they did their job as well as they possibly could.

Why did our client with the public defender get a better outcome? The federal judge was moved by his efforts to demonstrate what he learned and why he would never return to another courtroom. So whether you have a federal public defender or the most expensive lawyer in America, a quasi-useless lawyer that calls you back every six months or they call only when they want money, none of it changes what you have to do through your own efforts to convey why you’re worthy of mercy.

So that’s how I’m going to wrap it up as I leave Lexington, Kentucky, which has been an incredible trip. I’m going to be back here in March when our client gets sentenced along with my business partner, Michael Santos. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to provide value to all of you. Of course, if you want free resources, you should read my book, Lessons From Prison or Ethics in Motion. We have a free 30 hour, 30 lesson course based on a new book I wrote with Michael called Prepare. So we have tons of resources for you. If you’d like to speak with me, text me, call me. Happy to offer you some advice as I close from Lexington, before I make my way back home.

Justin Paperny

P.S. If you would like about sentencing mitigation, click here to schedule a call.