*** Lower sentences or probation won by 80 percent of my mitigation reportsI've written or edited 500 mitigation reports for state and federal defendants, first as the Director of Mitigation and Social Work for a Public Defender law firm in the Bronx and then during 12 years of private practice, mainly in the five boroughs of New York City and now both in the City and throughout Maine. I accept private and indigent clients in federal (CJA) and state courts (MCILS or 18b).

[CASE] Probation Won Again after a Second Sex Offense Led to Violation of Probation - despite judicial threats of 10 years in prison the mitigation report won a release from 5 months in jail and a sentence of probation and residential substance abuse treatment in this Jan. 2013 case.  A Bronx NY jurist known for harsh sentences described the mitigation report as honest and thorough.  She admired the frank summary of criminal convictions and new charges and accepted the argument that 27 months of law-abiding sobriety deserved a second chance.  (See redacted report "Sex Charge Probation"; contact attorney Steve Goldman at


*** The Arts of Rhetoric and Storytelling – a mitigation report tells the client’s and the defense’s truth through the reasoning of rhetoric.  It uses the scientific findings of psychology (and other social and physical sciences) as background for a compelling life-story that becomes a cogent argument for clemency.  Aristotle considered rhetoric a counterpart of logic and the law writing that it is "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion."  500 mitigation reports have taught me to find the “means of persuasion” in every defendant’s life-story.

[CASE] “We hit a homerun on this case,” said NY Southern District CJA attorney Larry Sheehan ( about a December 2012 case.  Petitioning for a departure from the statutory minimum, the mitigation report helped to earn time-served (13 months) and a residential drug treatment program for a 55 year old woman who pled to conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance.   The AUSA and probation report recommended 60 months.  (see redacted report "Federal Drug Case")


*** A legal social worker is an "educated and informed" professional who uses the work of other professionals to create sympathy for a client; he is similar to a science writer who is not a psychologist, a neurologist, a sociologist, or a sex abuse expert but grasps their work well enough to interpret it favorably to judges and prosecutors.

[CASE] Medicaid fraud - after conviction at trial the prosecutor insisted on seven years in prison for this licensed therapist, but the Pre-Sentencing Memorandum led to no jail and no probation.  The judge paraphrased the report when she said, “He’s a good man who has suffered enough.”


*** Author of Two Books

[CASEThird DWI ended in probation (after 5 months in jail) due to the mitigation report and a referral to an alcohol abuse program; among the 20 letters of support his sister’s (a former prosecutor) was a key factor.


*** Advocacy - a forensic (aka legal) social worker has as much in common with a defense attorney as he does with fellow social workers, especially as it applies to the goal of the work, i.e. a lower sentence.  Hence my social work is legal and not diagnostic or therapeutic although the fields overlap, in particular regarding the development of psychosocial histories and effecting placements for treatment.  

[CASE] A police officer in a press-plagued 2012 federal corruption case got 12 months from a “hanging judge” when other officers were sentenced to 60 months and more. The mitigation report emphasized his sound character, his family’s commitment to his rehabilitation and his plan to enter the army.  An army captain who consulted with the mitigation specialist wrote a letter of support on the defendant’s potential army career. The defense attorney wrote, “We beat the guidelines. He got a year and a day. Hopefully he will be designated to a camp and be out in 10 months.”


*** Alternatives to Incarceration – place clients with pending cases in alcohol and drug treatment programs; consultant to six substance abuse treatment clinics and a sex offender program; placements for mental health conditions and developmental disabilities.   

[CASE] Federal Drug Conspiracy ended in probation with residential drug abuse and mental health treatmentfor an 18-year old who had been a good student and an outstanding basketball player.  The report documented the depression and post-traumatic stress caused by the murders of 10 family members and friends from his Bronx housing project. His crack addicted mother had been murdered by her dealer and her body left by the project’s dumpsters for all to see.


*** Persuasion - whereas a clinical social worker (as well as a psychologist or psychiatrist) strives for objectivity in assessment and treatment recommendations, a forensic social worker relies on science-based arguments on behalf of defendants

 [CASE] Non-jail Deal in Maine Superior Court – MCILS Attorney Robert Van Horn wrote, "Jim Boyle's experience was invaluable in developing an intensive outpatient program for a mentally ill criminal client.  At the end of a 2-hour hearing Judge Murray accepted Jim’s detailed testimony about his plan as an alternative to the State's request for years in prison."  ( 


*** 33 Years of Experience - began social work career in 1971; Masters in Social Work from Stony Brook University; graduate studies in rhetoric and persuasive reasoning (philosophy); author of two novels. 

[CASE]  “The best Pre-Pleading Investigation report that Ive ever seen,” said a Bronx Prosecutor.  The client had been charged with first degree rape based on the knife-point assault of his half-sister in front of her three small children.  There was a full confession and at every court date the complainant insisted that the defendant be made to burn in hell. Citing the mitigation report (in 2006) the Judge sentenced him to 8 years.  In a 2012 SORA hearing the new ADA lauded the report. (Attorney John Cromwell is at


*** Documentation - I develop background for the client’s life-story by interviewing family members, friends, employers, clergy, educators et al and by accessing relevant documents.  I solicit letters of support for which I provide written guidelines and I advise supporters on effective writing.  I follow-up to ensure letters are written. 

[CASE] Social Security fraud for over 7 years resulted in federal probation; the report focused on a gambling addiction and on documenting her treatment, her community activism and her 8 years caring for her mother who had Alzheimer’s.


*** 1500 court cases as the Director of Social Work and Client Advocacy at a public defender law firm, in projects for juvenile offenders and in private practice.  

[CASE] Lewiston MCILS attorney Jeff Dolley wrote, "Jim provided in-depth insight into my client's personal issues, and helped me to complete the connection for my client as a victim of child abuse to the resulting drug problem underlying the criminal behavior.  The background work and detailed report Jim authored were a useful platform in approaching the sentencing aspects of my client's case.  I would not hesitate to use Jim again in the future."  (


[Summing Up] Non-jail Dispositions were cited by Attorney Bruce Yerman, “I know of no finer social worker and sentence-mitigation specialist than Mr. Boyle.  His work has been instrumental in helping me to obtain probation for clients for whom a non-jail disposition seemed nearly impossible.”  (