Last November, I was asked to be a speaker at the Virginia State Bar’s Tenth Annual Indigent Criminal Defense Seminar-Advanced Skills for the Experienced Practitioner to take place at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on May 2, 2014. Of course, I jumped at the chance to speak in front of 850 experienced criminal defense lawyers on a topic that I have been studying, practicing, and teaching about for the last two decades–forensic assessment. The topic that I was asked to speak about was one that I had presented on at the National Criminal Defense Forum on Forensic Mental Health and the Law in Denver, CO in September, 2013. The topic–Preparing and Cross-Examining Experts on Competency and Other Mental Health Issues–is one that is important to me, given the amount of time I spend training doctoral students and mental health professionals around the country about how to conduct forensic assessments for the courts.
Having been retained in a number of high-profile and important cases, either to act as an evaluating expert or, more recently, to act as a consulting expert who assists attorneys in retaining, preparing, and cross-examining defense and prosecution experts, has given me a unique opportunity to see first-hand the errors in evaluation, report writing, and testimony committed by mental health experts. The purpose of this presentation is to provide legal professionals with an understanding of what to look for in an evaluating expert, how mental health evaluations are to be conducted, the ethical and professional obligations of the forensic evaluator, the content to be included in (and excluded from) written evaluation reports, and how to use an evaluating expert to assist in the cross-examination of an opposing expert. I have included a copy of my slides as well as links to the materials that I reference throughout my talk below for those in attendance who wish to access these materials at a later point in time as well as for anyone else who might stumble across this webpage as a result of a search for information on this topic.
Thank you for the opportunity to be with you for this excellent program!
Interdisciplinary Fitness Interview – Revised Training Manual
National Judicial College’s Mental Competency Best Practices Model Website and Resources
- Frederick, R. I., Mrad, D. F., & DeMier, R. L. (2007). Examinations of Criminal Responsibility: Foundations in Mental Health Case Law. Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press.
- Goldstein, A., & Goldstein, N. E. S. (2010). Evaluating capacity to waive Miranda rights. New York: Oxford.
- Grisso, T. (2003). Evaluating competencies: Forensic assessments and instruments (2nd ed.). New York: Kluwer/Plenum.
- Kruh, I., & Grisso, T. (2008). Evaluation of juveniles’ competence to stand trial. New York: Oxford.
- Melton, G. B., Petrila, J. Poythress, N. G., & Slobogin, C. (2007). Psychological evaluations for the courts: A handbook for mental health professionals and lawyers (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford.
- Mossman, D., Noffsinger, S. G., Ash, P., Frierson, R. L., Gerbasi, J., Hackett, M., et al. (2007). AAPL practice guideline for the forensic psychiatric evaluation of competence to stand trial. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 35, S3-S72.
- Philipsborn, J. T. (2004). Searching for uniformity in adjudications of the accused’s competence to assist and consult in capital cases. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 10, 417-442.
- Pirelli, G., Gottdiener, W. H., & Zapf, P. A. (2011). A meta-analytic review of competency to stand trial research. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 17, 1-53.
- Roesch, R., & Zapf, P. A. (2013). Forensic Assessments in Criminal and Civil Law: A Handbook for Lawyers. New York: Oxford.
- Zapf, P. A., & Roesch, R. (2000). Mental competency evaluations: Guidelines for judges and attorneys. Court Review, 37, 28-35.