Developments in Mental Health Law

Articles from Vol. 28, No. 1, January

A Civil Commitment Order Alone Is Not a Sufficient Basis for a Law Enforcement Official to Enter the Home of a Third-Party; Ruling Not Disturbed by Supreme Court
A foundation of the Fourth Amendment protection from "unreasonable searches and seizures" is the "centuries-old principle of respect for the privacy of the home." Wilson v. Layne, 526 U.S. 603, 610 (1992). To guard this privacy and to minimize the...
A Failure to Pursue an Insanity Defense on Behalf of an Individual with a Mental Illness Does Not Necessarily Constitute Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Defense counsel, as well as prosecutors, must make many difficult strategic decisions in preparation for and in the course of a criminal trial. Arguably one of the most difficult of these decisions is whether to pursue an insanity defense on behalf...
A Mental Health Expert Potentially Violates a Criminal Defendant's Constitutional Rights by Referring during Testimony to the Defendant's Refusal to Speak during an Evaluation; Ruling Not Disturbed by Supreme Court
If a mental health evaluation of a criminal defendant is ordered, the mental health professional conducting the evaluation will generally seek to meet with the defendant. One frequent goal of this meeting is to hear first-hand the defendant's account...
"And His Roommate Told Me ...": Should Forensic Mental Health Evaluators Be Barred from Recounting Third-Party Statements When Explaining the Basis of Their Opinions?
I. Introduction It is the winter of 2000. Angela Hegarty waits on a wood bench outside a courtroom in New York City. She is a forensic psychiatrist who will testify as an expert witness for the prosecution in a case--People v. Goldstein--that has...
Conviction and Sentence of "Beltway Sniper" Upheld; Testimony of Defendant's Mental Health Expert Could Be Excluded When Defendant Refused to Submit to an Examination by the Prosecution's Expert; Also, the Defendant Was Competent to Represent Himself
First came 9/11, then the "Beltway Sniper." Still reeling from the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, the Washington Metropolitan Area, extending along Interstate 95 into Virginia, was virtually paralyzed for three weeks in October...
Courts, Including Those in Virginia, Continue to Wrestle with the Availability and Application of the Psychotherapist-Client Privilege
In 1952, a state trial court in Illinois issued what appears to have been the first judicial ruling recognizing a testimonial psychotherapist-client privilege. It established that disclosures made in the course of psychotherapy may generally not be...
Defendant's Proposed Mental Health Expert Testimony regarding Insanity and Mens Rea Deemed Unreliable and Unhelpful; Ruling Not Disturbed by Supreme Court
The so-called "mental status defenses"--such as the insanity defense and an assertion that the defendant lacked the requisite mens rea (i.e., intent) for a charged offense--tend to be heavily dependent on supporting mental health expert testimony....
Federal Court of Appeals Reverses State Court Finding That Defendant Was Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity; Expert Testimony Establishing Defendant's Insanity Unreasonably Rejected; Ruling Not Disturbed by Supreme Court
It is relatively rare for an appellate court to review a trial court verdict that addresses whether a defendant was not guilty by reason of insanity. Because these verdicts are heavily dependent on an assessment of the facts presented and accompanying...
In California, Psychiatrist Not Liable Following Patient's Unexpected Attack on Neighbor's Family
By most accounts, Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California is the most well-known judicial ruling pertaining to mental health professionals. It has also spawned a lengthy legacy of ensuing rulings exploring its parameters both within California,...
It's All in Your Head: Neurotechnological Lie Detection and the Fourth and Fifth Amendments
"Historically, fundamental decisions regarding the implications of new technologies have occurred very early in the life cycles of those technologies.... These technologies ... evolved considerably since the courts originally addressed them, however,...
Sixth Circuit Expands Hospitals' Responsibilities under EMTALA for Patients with Psychiatric Problems Who Come to the Emergency Room; New York City Agrees to Pay $2 Million to Family of Woman Who Died on Floor of Psychiatric Emergency Room after Waiting over 24 Hours for Treatment
The most recent findings of an ongoing national survey found that there were 119.2 million visits to hospital emergency departments in 2006, or 40.5 visits per 100 persons. This was an increase of 32% and 18%, respectively, over the past ten years....
Supreme Court Rules That FDA Approval of the Safety Risks Listed on a Medication's Label Does Not Immunize Manufacturers from State Tort Claims for a Failure to Warn of Other Dangers from Ingesting the Medication
Perhaps it's because they enjoyed record profits. Perhaps it's because of soaring health care costs, much of which has been attributed to their products. Perhaps it's because of a greater dependency on medications to treat a range of physical and mental...
Virginia Courts Wrestle with Case Involving Homicide Defendant Diagnosed as Having a Dissociative Identity Disorder
The diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder (DID), and its precursor--multiple personality disorder, has long been controversial. Indeed, it may be the most controversial diagnosis introduced into the criminal justice system. It involves "[t]he...

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