Richard T. Wood
Death Penalty Mitigation Specialist

Richard T. Wood has worked as a death penalty mitigation specialist in both public defender and privately retained cases for more than 25 years (over 175 cases), investigating the backgrounds of capital defendants, developing mitigation evidence, and coordinating expert testimony. American Bar Association Guidelines for the Appointment and Performance of Defense Counsel in Death Penalty Cases states that a mitigation specialist is a mandatory part of the defense in a capital case and failure to include a mitigation specialist in a death penalty case is considered ineffective assistance of counsel. The work of a mitigation specialist can mean life or death to a client.

 Mr. Wood's qualifications include:

  • Information-gathering ability and training
  • Skill and training to recognize congenital or acquired mental or neurological conditions in the client
  • Skill and training to recognize the signs, causes, and results of substance abuse
  • Skill and training to recognize how the above conditions might have affected the client's development and behavior
  • Skill and training to recognize how the above conditions might impact the defense of the case, the applicability of the death penalty, and the ability of the client to assist in his own defense
  • Skills, training, and ability to work with people in difficult situations
  • The ability to discuss with potential mitigation witnesses the painful and embarrassing situations that might have contributed to the client's situation

 Mr. Wood's role in a death penalty case includes:

  • Gathering and analyzing psychological, psychiatric and other mental health documentation and records
  • Gathering and analyzing police records, school records, and other relevant records
  • Compiling a comprehensive and well-documented psycho-social history of the client based upon an exhaustive investigation
  • Analyzing the significance of the information in terms of impact on development, including effect on personality and behavior
  • Finding mitigating themes in the client's life history
  • Traveling locally, nationally or internationally to gather mitigation evidence
  • Identifying the need for expert assistance, including cultural experts
  • Assisting in the location of appropriate experts
  • Providing social history information to experts to enable them to conduct competent and reliable evaluations
  • Working with the defense team and experts to develop a comprehensive and cohesive case in mitigation
  • Preparing reports on witness statements, social history and other topics relevant to the case.

Mr. Wood's background includes:

  • Advanced education in psychology, including a masters degree and PhD-level work in counseling psychology.
  • A background in juvenile justice, adult probation and parole, and capital defense
  • For details about Mr. Wood's background, see his CV

Mr. Wood has worked as a death penalty mitigation specialist in Washington, Montana, Colorado, Nevada, Ohio, and the following California counties:

  • Sacramento
  • Santa Clara
  • Placer
  • Stanislaus
  • Fresno
  • Yolo
  • Contra Costa
  • Merced
  • San Joaquin
  • El Dorado

Mr. Wood has conducted investigations in the following countries:

  • United States
  • Mexico
  • The Philipines
  • Viet Nam
  • Thailand


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