Welcome to the Course

I’m Michael Santos. Along with my partner, Justin Paperny, I’m happy to welcome you to our sentence-mitigation workshop. We call it a workshop for a reason. Participants need to work through the course. There isn’t any way to fake a mitigation plan. Either you will work toward completing the plan, or you will not. Our team can help, but only to the extent that you’re willing to participate.

A sentence mitigation plan is about you. It’s about showing your judge why you’re worthy of mercy. What reasons can you provide?

To help you understand what to expect from this course, I’ll share more about the course’s origins. The next lesson reveals more about Justin and me (please skip that lesson if you already know our backstory). The origins of our mitigation plan are a little different.

Brief Bio:

As a young man, I made bad decisions. I sold cocaine. When authorities arrested me in 1987, I’d never been in prison before. The defense attorney I hired led me to believe there was a big difference between an indictment and a conviction.

Rather than telling me what I needed to hear, the attorney told me what I wanted to hear. I made a series of bad decisions that worsened my predicament. I proceeded through trial and then I perjured myself on the witness stand.

It wasn’t until after I was convicted, but before I was sentenced, that I realized the gravity of my predicament. As a result of my decisions, my judge would likely sentence me to a term that would require more than a decade in prison.

The full story of my journey through 9,500 days in prison is chronicled in Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Term. Click the link below to purchase a copy of the book:

The concept of a mitigation strategy never occurred to me until after the jury convicted me. While locked in the jail cell, I found a book that told a story about Socrates. That book helped me to understand the trouble I had gotten myself into. It helped me accept that if I wanted a better outcome, I had to change my way of thinking.

Instead of thinking about my perspective, I had to think about the people that would judge me. What, if anything, could I do to make things better?

Socrates was a Greek philosopher. We can thank him for the art of Socratic questioning—which helps people develop strong critical thinking skills. Socrates helped me grasp that I had to think about the people that I wanted to influence. What would they want?

Until I read that story about Socrates, I predicated all of my thoughts on what I wanted: What could I do to get out of jail early? That was the wrong question. Socrates taught me to ask a different question: What could I do to prove worthy of mercy? By asking different questions, I learned how to craft a mitigation strategy that would help me reconcile with society.

Throughout this mitigation workshop, we’ll help you learn the same types of lessons that Socrates taught me. You will work toward building a body of work that reflects your commitment to reconciling with society. Your work will be highly personal. There will not be anything boilerplate in the exercises. If you succeed, your judge will see precisely why you’re worthy of mercy.

We hope this mitigation workshop inspires the type of questions that will help your lawyer build a stronger case for leniency.

In the next lesson, we offer information about Justin and me. If you already have that information, please skip the next lesson and get started on building your mitigation strategy.