Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Forensic Psychology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Forensic Psychology. Show all posts

Thursday, May 4, 2023

The Unchecked Rise of Psychological Testing Evidence in United States Courts.

King, C., & Neal, T. M. (2022, June 7).


Psychological testing, based on psychometric science, is often used in court to aid judges and juries in making legal decisions that profoundly affect people’s lives, such as eligibility for disability benefits, psychological damages, child custody, and whether and where someone will serve a criminal sentence. We provide a novel estimate of the pattern of psychological tests introduced as legal evidence throughout the entire history of United States case law, finding a sharp increase in this type of expert evidence in recent years. Although the law requires judges to screen evidence for relevance and reliability before allowing an expert to testify about it in court, legal challenges to psychological testing evidence are rare: across 28,824 judicial opinions citing psychological tests, just 479 involved a potential admissibility challenge (1.66%). This finding informs and raises questions for the public as well as legal and mental health professionals.


Our results indicate that psychological testing evidence in U.S. courts has been increasing steadily in civil, family, and criminal cases over the past half-century, beginning roughly around the time that psychological testing emerged as a specialty in the field of psychology. Although we used a sizable sample, psychological testing evidence has undoubtedly occurred in many more cases than we could capture—with such evidence either not specified in written opinions, or judicial decisions not incorporated, for various reasons, into the large legal database we searched.

We also found evidence that legal professionals either rarely scrutinize psychological testing evidence, or admissibility decisions about such evidence are not typically deemed significant enough to warrant written explanations. This seems to be true irrespective of shifts in the strictness of admissibility standards over time. Potential challenge rates did, however, vary across individual psychological tests, and at least a third of the examined tests were challenged at least once. The two most commonly challenged types of tests provide a clue as to the type of case most likely to involve testing-related challenges: litigation concerning the civil commitment of certain convicted sex offenders. Nevertheless, the generally unchecked rise in psychological testing evidence, as suggested by this study, raises questions about the rigor of current admissibility standards, the functioning of the enforcers of those rules, and the seemingly broad deference afforded to mental health professionals’ highly varied test selections.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Countering cognitive biases on experts’ objectivity in court

Kathryn A. LaFortune
Monitor on Psychology
Vol. 53 No. 6
Print version: page 47

Mental health professionals’ opinions can be extremely influential in legal proceedings. Yet, current research is inconclusive about the effects of various cognitive biases on experts’ objectivity when making forensic mental health judgments and which biases most influence these decisions, according to a 2022 study in Law and Human Behavior by psychologists Tess Neal, Pascal Lienert, Emily Denne, and Jay Singh (Vol. 46, No. 2, 2022). The study also pointed to the need for more research on which debiasing strategies effectively counter bias in forensic mental health decisions and whether there should be specific policies and procedures to address these unique aspects of forensic work in mental health.

In the study, researchers conducted a systematic review of the relevant literature in forensic mental health decision-making. “Bias” was not generally defined in most of the available studies reviewed in the context of researching forensic mental health judgments. Their study noted that only a few forms of bias have been explored as they pertain specifically to forensic mental health professionals’ opinions. Adversarial allegiance, confirmation bias, hindsight bias, and bias blind spot have not been rigorously studied for potential negative effects on forensic mental health expert opinions across different contexts.

The importance of addressing these concerns is heightened when considering APA’s Ethics Code provisions that require psychologists to decline a professional role if bias may diminish their objectivity (See, Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, Section 3.06). Similarly, the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists advises forensic practitioners to decline participation in cases when potential biases may impact their impartiality or to take steps to correct or limit the effects of the bias (Section 2.07). That said, unlike in other professions where tasks are often repetitive, decision-making in the field of forensic psychology is impacted by the unique nature of the various referrals that forensic psychologists receive, making it even more difficult to expect them to consider and correct how their culture, attitudes, values, beliefs, and biases might affect their work. They engage in greater subjectivity in selecting assessment tools from a large array of available tests, none of which are uniformly adopted in cases, in part because of the wide range of questions experts often must answer to assist the court and the current lack of standardized methods. Neither do experts typically receive immediate feedback on their opinions. This study also noted that the only debiasing strategy shown to be effective for forensic psychologists was to “consider the opposite,” in which experts ask themselves why their opinions might be wrong and what alternatives they may have considered.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Deinstitutionalization of People with Mental Illness: Causes and Consequences

Daniel Yohanna, MD
Virtual Mentor. 2013;15(10):886-891.

Here is an excerpt:

State hospitals must return to their traditional role of the hospital of last resort. They must function as entry points to the mental health system for most people with severe mental illness who otherwise will wind up in a jail or prison. State hospitals are also necessary for involuntary commitment. As a nation, we are working through a series of tragedies involving weapons in the hands of people with severe mental illness—in Colorado, where James Holmes killed or wounded 70 people, Arizona, where Jared Loughner killed or wounded 19 people, and Connecticut, where Adam Lanza killed 28 including children as young as 6 years old. All are thought to have had severe mental illness at the time of their crimes. After we finish the debate about the availability of guns, particularly to those with mental illness, we will certainly have to address the mental health system and lack of services, especially for those in need of treatment but unwilling or unable to seek it. With proper services, including involuntary commitment, many who have the potential for violence can be treated. Just where will those services be initiated, and what will be needed?

Nearly 30 years ago, Gudeman and Shore published an estimate of the number of people who would need long-term care—defined as secure, supportive, indefinite care in specialized facilities—in Massachusetts. Although a rather small study, it is still instructive today. They estimated that 15 persons out of 100,000 in the general population would need long-term care. Trudel and colleagues confirmed this approximation with a study of the long-term need for care among people with the most severe and persistent mental illness in a semi-rural area in Canada, where they estimated a need of 12.4 beds per 100,000. A consensus of other experts estimates that the total number of state beds required for acute and long-term care would be more like 50 beds per 100,000 in the population. At the peak of availability in 1955, there were 340 beds per 100,000. In 2010, the number of state beds was 43,318 or 14.1 beds per 100,000.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Are psychopaths moral‐psychologically impaired? Reassessing emotion‐theoretical explanations

Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen
Mind & Language. 2020; 1– 17. 


Psychopathy has been theorized as a disorder of emotion, which impairs moral judgments. However, these theories are increasingly being abandoned as empirical studies show that psychopaths seem to make proper moral judgments. In this contribution, these findings are reassessed, and it is argued that prevalent emotion‐theories of psychopathy appear to operate with the unjustified assumption that psychopaths have no emotions, which leads to the hypothesis that psychopaths are completely unable to make moral judgments. An alternative and novel explanation is proposed, theorizing psychopathy as a degree‐specific emotional deficiency, which causes degree‐specific differences in moral judgments.

From the Conclusion Section

Motivated by a suite of ostensibly undermining empirical studies, this paper sought to defend and qualify emotion-theories of psychopathy by explicating in detail the philosophical and psychological commitments these theories appear to be implicitly endorsing, namely, a (constructivist) sentimentalist framework. This explication demonstrated, above all, that psychopathy studies appear to operate with an inconsistent set of hypotheses when trying to capture the differences between diagnosed psychopaths and controls in terms of their moral judgments and values. This led to a consideration of alternative research designs particularly aimed at capturing the potential moral psychological differences that follows from having diminished emotional dispositions, namely, degree-specific differences related to the two-dimensional value spectrum, as opposed to differences related to answers on moral categorical issues.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Forensic mental health expert testimony and judicial decision-making: A systematic literature review

R.M.S.van Es, M.J.J.Kunst, & J.W.de Keijser
Aggression and Violent Behavior
Volume 51, March–April 2020, 101387


Forensic mental health expertise (FMHE) is an important source of information for decision-makers in the criminal justice system. This expertise can be used in various decisions in a criminal trial, such as criminal responsibility and sentencing decisions. Despite an increasing body of empirical literature concerning FMHE, it remains largely unknown how and to what extent this expertise affects judicial decisions. The aim of this review was therefore to provide insight in the relationship between FMHE and different judicial decisions by synthesizing published, quantitative empirical studies. Based on a systematic literature search using multiple online databases and selection criteria, a total of 27 studies are included in this review. The majority of studies were experiments conducted in the US among mock jurors. Most studies focused on criminal responsibility or sentencing decisions. Studies concerning criminal responsibility found consistent results in which psychotic defendants of serious, violent crimes were considered not guilty by reason of insanity more often than defendants with psychopathic disorders. Results for length and type of sanctions were less consistent and were often affected by perceived behavioral control, recidivism risk and treatability. Studies on possible prejudicial effects of FMHE are almost non-existent. Evaluation of findings, limitations and implications for future research and practice are discussed.


• 27 studies examined effects of FMHE on judicial decisions on guilt and sentencing.

• Majority of studies from US with an experimental vignette design among mock jurors.

• FMHE on psychotic disorders led to more NGRI verdicts than psychopathic disorders.

• Effect of FMHE on sentencing is affected by disorder, behavioral control, treatability or recidivism risk.

• Research on prejudicial effects is almost non-existent.

 The info is here.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Flawed science? Two efforts launched to improve scientific validity of psychological test evidence in court

Karen Franklin
forensicpsychologist Blog
Originally posted 15 Feb 20

Here is an excerpt:

New report slams "junk science” psychological assessments

In one of two significant developments, a group of researchers today released evidence of systematic problems with the state of psychological test admissibility in court. The researchers' comprehensive survey found that only about two-thirds of the tools used by clinicians in forensic settings were generally accepted in the field, while even fewer -- only about four in ten -- were favorably reviewed in authoritative sources such as the Mental Measurements Yearbook.

Despite this, psychological tests are rarely challenged when they are introduced in court, Tess M.S. Neal and her colleagues found. Even when they are, the challenges fail about two-thirds of the time. Worse yet, there is little relationship between a tool’s psychometric quality and the likelihood of it being challenged.

“Some of the weakest tools tend to get a pass from the courts,” write the authors of the newly issued report, "Psychological Assessments in Legal Contexts: Are Courts Keeping 'Junk Science' Out of the Courtroom?”

The report, currently in press in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, proposes that standard batteries be developed for forensic use, based on the consensus of experts in the field as to which tests are the most reliable and valid for assessing a given psycho-legal issue. It further cautions against forensic deployment of newly developed tests that are being marketed by for-profit corporations before adequate research or review by independent professionals.

The info is here.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Forensic Clinicians’ Understanding of Bias

Tess Neal, Nina MacLean, Robert D. Morgan,
and Daniel C. Murrie
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 
Sep 16 , 2019, No Pagination Specified


Bias, or systematic influences that create errors in judgment, can affect psychological evaluations in ways that lead to erroneous diagnoses and opinions. Although these errors can have especially serious consequences in the criminal justice system, little research has addressed forensic psychologists’ awareness of well-known cognitive biases and debiasing strategies. We conducted a national survey with a sample of 120 randomly-selected licensed psychologists with forensic interests to examine a) their familiarity with and understanding of cognitive biases, b) their self-reported strategies to mitigate bias, and c) the relation of a and b to psychologists’ cognitive reflection abilities. Most psychologists reported familiarity with well-known biases and distinguished these from sham biases, and reported using research-identified strategies but not fictional/sham strategies. However, some psychologists reported little familiarity with actual biases, endorsed sham biases as real, failed to recognize effective bias mitigation strategies, and endorsed ineffective bias mitigation strategies. Furthermore, nearly everyone endorsed introspection (a strategy known to be ineffective) as an effective bias mitigation strategy. Cognitive reflection abilities were systematically related to error, such that stronger cognitive reflection was associated with less endorsement of sham biases.

Here is the conclusion:

These findings (along with Neal & Brodsky’s, 2016) suggest that forensic clinicians are in need of additional training not only to recognize biases but perhaps to begin to effectively mitigate harm from biases. For example, in predoctoral (e.g., internship) and postdoctoral (fellowships), didactic training could address bias, recognizing bias and providing strategies for minimizing bias. Additionally, supervisors could address identifying and reducing bias as a regular part of supervision (e.g., by including this as part of case conceptualization). However, further research is needed to determine the types of training and workflow strategies that best reduce bias. Future studies should focus on experimentally examining the presence of biases and ways to mitigate their effects in forensic evaluations.

The research is here.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Confronting bias in judging: A framework for addressing psychological biases in decision making

Tom Stafford, Jules Holroyd, & Robin Scaife
Last edited on December 24, 2018


Cognitive biases are systematic tendencies of thought which undermine accurate or fair reasoning. An allied concept is that of ‘implicit bias’, which are biases directed at members of particular social identities which may manifest without individual’s endorsement or awareness. This article reviews the literature on cognitive bias, broadly conceived, and makes proposals for how judges might usefully think about avoiding bias in their decision making. Contra some portrayals of cognitive bias as ‘unconscious’ or unknowable, we contend that things can be known about our psychological biases, and steps taken to address them. We argue for the benefits of a unified treatment of cognitive and implicit biases and propose a “3 by 3” framework which can be used by individuals and institutions to review their practice with respect to addressing bias. We emphasise that addressing bias requires an ongoing commitment to monitoring, evaluation and review rather than one­-off interventions.

The research is here.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Lost-in-the-mall: False memory or false defense?

Ruth A. Blizard & Morgan Shaw (2019)
Journal of Child Custody
DOI: 10.1080/15379418.2019.1590285


False Memory Syndrome (FMS) and Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) were developed as defenses for parents accused of child abuse as part of a larger movement to undermine prosecution of child abuse. The lost-in-the-mall study by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus concludes that an entire false memory can be implanted by suggestion. It has since been used to discredit abuse survivors’ testimony by inferring that false memories for childhood abuse can be implanted by psychotherapists. Examination of the research methods and findings of the study shows that no full false memories were actually formed. Similarly, PAS, coined by Richard Gardner, is frequently used in custody cases to discredit children’s testimony by alleging that the protective parent coached them to have false memories of abuse. There is no scientific research demonstrating the existence of PAS, and, in fact, studies on the suggestibility of children show that they cannot easily be persuaded to provide detailed disclosures of abuse.

The info is here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Beyond the Boundaries: Ethical Issues in the Practice of Indirect Personality Assessment in Non-Health-Service Psychology

Marvin W. Acklin
Journal of Personality Assessment


This article focuses on ethical quandaries in the practice of indirect personality assessment in non-health-service psychology. Indirect personality assessment methods do not involve face-to-face interaction. Personality assessment at a distance is a methodological development of personality and social psychology, psychobiography, and psychohistory. Indirect personality methods are used in clinical, forensic, law enforcement, public safety, and national security settings. Psychology practice in non-health-service settings creates tensions between principles of beneficence and duty to society. This article defines methods of indirect personality assessment and some ethical ramifications. Their application in non-health-service settings occurs in the context of intense controversy over the ethics of psychologists’ participation in work settings where there are third-party loyalties, absence of voluntary informed consent, presence of nonstipulated harms, and absence of legal and ethical accountability. A hypothetical case example illustrates typical quandaries encountered in a national security assessment. This article provides a framework for critically examining ethical quandaries, a contemporary conceptual and process model for integrative moral cognition, and parameters for ethical reasoning by the individual practitioner under the exigencies of real-world practice.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Discerning bias in forensic psychological reports in insanity cases

Tess M. S. Neal
Behavioral Sciences & the Law, (2018).


This project began as an attempt to develop systematic, measurable indicators of bias in written forensic mental health evaluations focused on the issue of insanity. Although forensic clinicians observed in this study did vary systematically in their report‐writing behaviors on several of the indicators of interest, the data are most useful in demonstrating how and why bias is hard to ferret out. Naturalistic data were used in this project (i.e., 122 real forensic insanity reports), which in some ways is a strength. However, given the nature of bias and the problem of inferring whether a particular judgment is biased, naturalistic data also made arriving at conclusions about bias difficult. This paper describes the nature of bias – including why it is a special problem in insanity evaluations – and why it is hard to study and document. It details the efforts made in an attempt to find systematic indicators of potential bias, and how this effort was successful in part, but also how and why it failed. The lessons these efforts yield for future research are described. We close with a discussion of the limitations of this study and future directions for work in this area.

The research is here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Reining It In: Making Ethical Decisions in a Forensic Practice

Donna M. Veraldi and Lorna Veraldi
A Paper Presented to American College of Forensic Psychology
34th Annual Symposium, San Diego, CA

Here is an excerpt:

Ethical dilemmas sometimes require making difficult choices among competing ethical principles and values. This presentation will discuss ethical dilemmas arising from the use of coercion and deception in forensic practice. In a forensic practice, the choice is not as simple as “do no harm” or “tell the truth.” What is and is not acceptable in terms of using various forms of pressure on individuals or of assisting agencies that put pressure on individuals? How much information should forensic psychologists share with individuals about evaluation techniques? What does informed consent
mean in the context of a forensic practice where many of the individuals with whom we interact are not there by choice?

The information is here.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Bad science puts innocent people in jail — and keeps them there

Radley Balko and Tucker Carrington
The Washington Post
Originally posted March 21, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

At the trial level, juries hear far too much dubious science, whether it’s an unproven field like bite mark matching or blood splatter analysis, exaggerated claims in a field like hair fiber analysis, or analysts testifying outside their area of expertise.  It’s difficult to say how many convictions have involved faulty or suspect forensics, but the FBI estimated in 2015 that its hair fiber analysts had testified in about 3,000 cases — and that’s merely one subspecialty of forensics, and only at the federal level.    Extrapolating from the database of DNA exonerations, the Innocence Project estimates that bad forensics contributes to about 45 percent of wrongful convictions.

But flawed evidence presented at trial is only part of the problem.  Even once a field of forensics or a particular expert has been discredited, the courts have made it extremely difficult for those convicted by bad science to get a new trial.

The Supreme Court makes judges responsible for determining what is good science.  They already decide what evidence is allowed at trial, so asking them to do the same for expert testimony may seem intuitive.  But judges are trained to do legal analyses, not scientific ones.  They generally deal with challenges to expert testimony by looking at what other judges have said.  If a previous court has allowed a field of forensic evidence, subsequent courts will, too.

The article is here.

Note: These issues also apply to psychologists in the courtroom.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"My Brain Made Me Do It" Is Becoming a More Common Criminal Defense

Dina Fine Maron
Scientific American
Originally published March 5, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

But experts looking back at the 2007 case now say Hodges was part of a burgeoning trend: Criminal defense strategies are increasingly relying on neurological evidence—psychological evaluations, behavioral tests or brain scans—to potentially mitigate punishment. Defendants may cite earlier head traumas or brain disorders as underlying reasons for their behavior, hoping this will be factored into a court’s decisions. Such defenses have been employed for decades, mostly in death penalty cases. But as science has evolved in recent years, the practice has become more common in criminal cases ranging from drug offenses to robberies.

“The number of cases in which people try to introduce neurotechnological evidence in the trial or sentencing phase has gone up by leaps and bounds,” says Joshua Sanes, director of the Center for Brain Science at Harvard University. But such attempts may be outpacing the scientific evidence behind the technology, he adds.

“In 2012 alone over 250 judicial opinions—more than double the number in 2007—cited defendants arguing in some form or another that their ‘brains made them do it,’” according to an analysis by Nita Farahany, a law professor and director of Duke University’s Initiative for Science and Society. More recently, she says, that number has climbed to around 420 each year.

The article is here.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Medical Evidence Debated

Ralph Bartholdt
Coeur d’Alene Press 
Originally posted October 27, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

“The point of this is not that he had a choice,” he said. “But what’s been loaded into his system, what’s he’s making the choices with.”

Thursday’s expert witness, psychologist Richard Adler, further developed the argument that Renfro suffered from a brain disorder evidenced by a series of photograph-like images of Renfro’s brain that showed points of trauma. He pointed out degeneration of white matter responsible for transmitting information from the front to the back of the brain, and shrunken portions on one side of the brain that were not symmetrical with their mirror images on the other side.

Physical evidence coinciding with the findings include Renfro’s choppy speech patterns and mannerisms as well inabilities to make cognitive connections, and his lack of social skills, Adler said.

Defense attorney Jay Logsdon asked if the images were obtained through a discredited method, one that has “been attacked as junk science?”

The method, called QEEG, for quantitative electroencephalogram, which uses electrical patterns that show electrical activity inside the brain’s cortex to determine impairment, was attacked in an article in 1997. The article’s criticism still stands today, Adler said.

Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, Adler reiterated findings, linking them to the defendant’s actions, and dovetailing them into other test results, psychological and cognitive, that have been conducted while Renfro has been incarcerated in the Kootenai County Jail.

The article is here.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Car Crash And A Mistrial Cast Doubts On Court-Ordered Mental Health Exams

Steve Burger
Side Effect Media: Public Health/Personal Stories
Originally posted September 26, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

Investigating a lie

Fink was often hired by the courts in Indiana, and over the last ten years had performed dozens of these competency evaluations. His scene-of-the-crash confession called into question not only the Loving trial, but every one he ever worked on.

Courts rely on psychologists to assess the mental fitness of defendants, but Fink’s story raises serious questions about how courts determine mental competency in Indiana and what system of oversight is in place to ensure defendants get a valid examination.

The judge declared a mistrial in Caleb Loving’s case, but Fink’s confession prompted a massive months-long investigation in Vanderburgh County.

Hermann led the investigation, working to untangle a mess of nearly 70 cases for which Fink performed exams or testing, determined to discover the extent of the damage he had done.

“A lot of different agencies participated in that investigation,” Herman said. “It was a troubling case, in that someone who was literally hired by the court to come in and testify about something … [was] lying.”

The county auditor’s office provided payment histories of psychologists hired by the courts, and the Evansville Police Department spent hundreds of hours looking through records. The courts helped Hermann get access to the cases that Albert Fink had worked on.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Justices Blast One-Stop-Shop Experts in Alabama

Tim Ryan
Courthouse News
Originally posted April 24, 2017

The Supreme Court’s liberal justices shredded an argument by Alabama’s solicitor general Monday that criminal defendants are not entitled to a mental health expert separate from the ones tapped by prosecutors.

McWilliams v. Dunn, the case the Supreme Court heard this morning, is nested inside the court’s 1984 decision in Ake v. Oklahoma, which held that poor criminal defendants using a defense of insanity are entitled to an expert to help support their claim.

A split has emerged in the 30 years since the decision, with some states deciding one expert helping both the prosecution and defense satisfies the requirement, and others choosing to assign an expert for the defendant to use exclusively.

The article is here.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Professional Liability for Forensic Activities: Liability Without a Treatment Relationship

Donna Vanderpool
Innov Clin Neurosci. 2016 Jul-Aug; 13(7-8): 41–44.

This ongoing column is dedicated to providing information to our readers on managing legal risks associated with medical practice. We invite questions from our readers. The answers are provided by PRMS, Inc. (www.prms.com), a manager of medical professional liability insurance programs with services that include risk management consultation, education and onsite risk management audits, and other resources to healthcare providers to help improve patient outcomes and reduce professional liability risk. The answers published in this column represent those of only one risk management consulting company. Other risk management consulting companies or insurance carriers may provide different advice, and readers should take this into consideration. The information in this column does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, contact your personal attorney. Note: The information and recommendations in this article are applicable to physicians and other healthcare professionals so “clinician” is used to indicate all treatment team members.


In my mental health practice, I am doing more and more forensic activities, such as IMEs and expert testimony. Since I am not treating the evaluees, there should be no professional liability risk, right?

The answer and column is here.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Crossing the Line: Daubert, Dual Roles, and the Admissibility of Forensic Mental Health Testimony

Sara Gordon
Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 4, 2016


Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals often testify as forensic experts in civil commitment and criminal competency proceedings. When an individual clinician assumes both a treatment and a forensic role in the context of a single case, however, that clinician forms a dual relationship with the patient — a practice that creates a conflict of interest and violates professional ethical guidelines. The court, the parties, and the patient are all affected by this conflict and the biased testimony that may result from dual relationships. When providing forensic testimony, the mental health professional’s primary duty is to the court, not to the patient, and she has an obligation to give objective and truthful testimony. But this testimony can result in the patient’s detention or punishment, a legal outcome that implicates the mental health professional’s corresponding obligation to “do no harm” to the patient. Moreover, the conflict of interest created by a dual relationship can affect the objectivity and reliability of forensic testimony.

A dual clinical and forensic relationship with a single patient is contrary to quality patient care, and existing clinical and forensic ethical guidelines strongly discourage the practice. Notwithstanding the mental health community’s general consensus about the impropriety of the practice, many courts do not question the mental health professional’s ability to provide forensic testimony for a patient with whom she has a simultaneous clinical relationship. Moreover, some state statutes require or encourage clinicians at state-run facilities to engage in these multiple roles. This Article argues that the inherent conflict created by these dual roles does not provide a reliable basis for forensic mental health testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and should not be admitted as reliable expert testimony by courts. Because dual relationships are often initiated due to provider shortages and the unavailability of neutral forensic examiners, this Article will also discuss the use of telemedicine as a way to provide forensic evaluations in under served areas, especially those where provider shortages have prompted mental health professionals to engage in dual clinical and forensic roles. Finally, this Article argues that courts should exercise their powers more broadly under Federal Rule of Evidence 706 to appoint neutral and independent mental health experts to conduct forensic evaluations in civil commitment and criminal competency proceedings.

The article is here.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Report: Gardens employer of Pulse nightclub shooter fined $150k

Lulu Ramadan
Originally posted September 10, 2016

The Palm Beach Gardens-based security company that employed the Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen was ordered to pay “the largest fine issued in history” of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services for falsley reporting psychological testing information, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

G4S Secure Solutions was issued the $151,400 fine Friday, after the department found that the psychologist listed on a form that allowed Mateen to carry a weapon was not practicing as a screener. A total of 1,514 forms submitted between 2006 and 2016 erroneously listed psychologist Carol Nudelman’s name.

The form that allowed Mateen to carry a gun as a security guard was dated Sept. 6, 2007, nearly two years after Nudelman had retired.

The article is here.