Mastering Expert Testimony: A Courtroom Handbook for Mental Health Professionals

By William T. Tsushima; Robert M. Anderson Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
MENTAL COMPETENCY AND DANGEROUSNESS

Mental health professionals are frequently consulted when questions arise as to whether a person is mentally competent. In the medical setting, psychiatrists and psychologists are called on to determine if a patient is competent to consent to or refuse essential medical treatment. In forensic situations, psychiatrists and psychologists are asked whether a person is mentally fit to stand trial or to sign legal documents, such as a will. The first half of this chapter addresses these issues, which are the most commonly asked questions pertaining to mental competence. The second half focuses on the prediction of violence, which is a premium challenge you face when evaluating dangerous offenders.


MENTAL COMPETENCY

Competency to Stand Trial

"Does he know the trouble he's in?"

A person is said to be mentally competent to stand trial if he or she can reasonably understand the legal proceedings and can consult with his or her attorney. When there are doubts about a defendant's competency to stand trial, the court will order an examination by a qualified clinician. Empirical research indicates that competency evaluations are typically highly reliable ( Melton et al., 1987). Competency examinations are usually performed in a forensic

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Mastering Expert Testimony: A Courtroom Handbook for Mental Health Professionals
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments x
  • Chapter 1- The Art of Expert Witnessing 1
  • Chapter 2- Witness Qualification 11
  • Chapter 3- The Clinical Examination 25
  • Chapter 4- Psychological Testing 42
  • Chapter 5- Psychotherapy 59
  • Chapter 6- Criminal Law 76
  • Chapter 7- Child Custody Disputes 95
  • Chapter 8- Personal Injury 113
  • Chapter 9- Mental Competency And Dangerousness 132
  • Chapter 10- Faking and Malingering 149
  • Chapter 11- Neuropsychological Assessment 164
  • Chapter 12- The Nondoctoral Witness 176
  • Chapter 13- Deposition 191
  • Appendix Annotated Reference List Books 206
  • References 209
  • Author Index 213
  • Subject Index 215
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