New Qualifications of Forensic Examiners

Article excerpt

In the wake of significant controversy over the meaning of statutory language specifying the qualifications required of mental health professionals to perform forensic evaluations, the General Assembly in 1987 amended [section][section]19.2-169.5 and 19.2-264.3:1 of the Virginia Code to clarify the matter. Effective July, evaluations of a criminal defendant's mental state (or "sanity") at the time of an offense or mental condition for the purposes of sentencing in a capital case may be performed by a

   mental health expert [who] shall be (i) a psychiatrist, a licensed
   clinical psychologist, a licensed psychologist registered with the
   Virginia Board of Psychology with a specialty in clinical services,
   or an individual with a doctorate degree in clinical psychology who
   has successfully completed forensic evaluation training as approved
   by the Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, Mental
   Retardation and Substance Abuse Services and (ii) qualified by
   specialized training and experience to perform forensic
   evaluations.

The amendment does not affect the qualifications required of mental health experts to perform other evaluations. …