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Psychiatrist as Expert Witness (From Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, P 513-535, 1986, William J Curran, et al, eds. -- See NCJ-110591)

NCJ Number
W J Curran; A L McGarry
Date Published
23 pages
This review of the roles of forensic psychiatrists focuses on problems in court practices and legal attitudes toward mental health professions and on factors to be considered in conducting pretrial forensic examinations and in preparing and presenting expert testimony.
Before and during the trial the roles of the forensic psychiatrist include educator, investigator, clinical evaluator, interpreter, advisor on trial strategy, advisor on venue and jury selection, drama coach, drama critic, rewrite editor for questions, and personal emotional supporter or therapist for attorneys, parties, or witnesses. Among legal attitudes and procedures that pose difficulties for expert psychiatric evidence are judicial rulings that many issues are understandable by common knowledge and are not subject to expert evaluation and the attitude that psychiatry and psychology lack objective standards. Expert psychiatric witnesses should aim both to produce a high level authority for opinions expressed and to convince the fact-finder of the correctness of the opinion. Conducting a forensic examination and presenting courtroom testimony both require careful preparation. 89 references and discussions of recommended techniques, limitations on psychiatric testimony, and the burden of proof.


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