Criminal Defense Mitigation
I assist criminal defense teams and their clients by producing compelling multi-media mitigation geonarrative exhibits as a social geographer.
I have worked on federal, state, military, capital, non-capital, and Miller cases.
To access example social geography materials please click here and enter the password you were given.
Locating your client's life story
Geography itself is a multi-faceted discipline that, in short-form, studies the “why of where.” The two main branches are human geography which studies the lived experiences of humans including politics, culture, economics, and social life and physical geography which studies the planet.
Social geography is a sub-field of human geography and focuses on understanding the ways people (as individuals and/or communities) experience identity, difference, and inequality, and the meanings they give to these experiences.
What is key to a social geography approach is the recognition that life experiences happen in places and, therefore, to fully understand an individual it is necessary to situate them in relation to the larger forces shaping their geographic locations.
Social geography is an important component of any competent investigation of the life of those who are charged with capital murder. Through my work with Dr. Urbanik, I have had the opportunity to understand my client's life experience through a very important lens.
- Cyndy Short, CLS Mitigation
Thanks to Julie Urbanik and her work, we were able to have a reasonable bail set for our client who faces very serious homicide charges and are using Body mapping on two more cases. Body mapping is now a tool in our video mitigation tool belt to take our advocacy to a new level. We were able to change minds using this innovative technique even with the most traditional attorneys and judges.
-Nicole Mull, Video Mitigation Unit, NY Legal Aid
Benefits and Value
Provides new ways to share your client's story
Contributes to preparing the client and/or key parties for testifying
Life context narratives demonstrate client's ability for self-reflection
Place-based narratives can help make the client more "relatable"
Educates the judge/jury about the larger social forces that shaped the client's life choices
Social geography overview of client's life context from the ages of 0-18 in relation to DOJ risk/protective factors.
Body maps and body map videos with client. Body maps are a method for telling autobiographies using hand-drawn symbols.
Place-based memory-walk videos
Societal context reports/media on specific topics
Social geography research summaries
Social geography expert testimony
Workshops/Training - I am available for body mapping workshops/trainings. Please contact me for details.
2022 Body Mapping for Mitigation Training - Invited Workshop Leader. New York Legal Aid Society,
2023 Body Mapping: A Method for Contextualizing Racial Issues in Mitigation. National Association of Criminal Defense
Lawyers (NACDL) Race Matters Seminar, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 10-12.
2021 How Social Geography Can Help Tell Your Client's Story. Arkansas Public Defenders Conference, May.
2020 Social Geography and Mitigation Videos. Mitigation University Workshop Training Series, August.
2017 How Social Geography Can Help Tell Your Client’s Story. NAPD Training Webinar.
2017 Social Geography for Mitigation. Federal Public Defender Training, Kansas City, Missouri.
2021 Applied geonarratives: Arts-based social geography in criminal defense mitigation. Social Sciences &
Humanities Open 4 (1): 1-10. Click here for access to full article.