Extenuating Circumstance

Gary Goodman, Simon Morse, Daniel Pryde-Jarman, Alice White

June 2006

An extenuating circumstance may be beyond our control, unforeseeable or unpresentable. A phrase for the evidence of compassion and empathy for our shared conditions, it acknowledges how our achievements can be restricted by other events that may prevent the demonstration or acquisition of skills, knowledge or competencies. Mitigating circumstances do not necessarily excuse or justify conduct, but are considered out of mercy or fairness in deciding the degree of blame and the potential reduction of penalties. The heat of passion may diminish our capacity to act with sense, and a retrospective acknowledgment of surrounding factors may warrant a more lenient evaluation of our difficulties and efforts. Circumstances dictate the nature of evidence, and when they are themselves dictated by hindrance, our judgments alter what can normally have been expected to occur.

‘When you shall these unlucky deeds relate,
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate’

Othello
Act 5, sc21.356