Archive for the ‘Expert witness’ Category

Frye vs. Daubert: Should it matter? Part 2

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

If you are a trial attorney who relies on forensic experts, you are no doubt familiar with the Daubert and Frye standards, and will know which standard applies in your particular jurisdiction.

Knowing the standard, however, does not necessarily mean that your expert will have the same knowledge. It also does not mean that your expert will know how to formulate and express opinions that will meet the standard, as applied either by the trial court or by an appellate court. Assuming that your expert has such knowledge can be a costly mistake. (more…)

University of North Carolina’s Response to Complaints of Sexual Assault

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

The news that the University of North Carolina has allegedly mishandled sexual assault complaints is very troubling. A recent news report states that one student who reported being sexually assaulted by another student says she was pressured by a university administrator not to make a criminal complaint, leaving her with the option of having a student “honor court” deal with the matter. (more…)

Marketing a Forensic Psychology Practice

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Let’s say you’re considering supplementing your income from therapy or teaching by offering your services as a forensic psychologist part-time. Or perhaps you have already tried it part time, or are at a point in your life where you have decided to “go all in” with a full-time forensic practice. In all likelihood, one of your first questions will be: How can I attract business? Or more specifically, how do I market my forensic practice and persuade potential clients – primarily lawyers — to take a chance with me? (more…)

How much can forensic psychologists make?

Friday, May 25th, 2012

In another blog, I pointed out that we do not have survey data telling us how much forensic psychologists earn, on average. However, how much they can earn is a different question. Answering it does not require survey data. (more…)

A commentary on women in the military who report being raped and being discharged with a personality disorder

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Are mental health practitioners using personality disorder diagnoses to help the military “get rid of” women who report being raped? This question is at the heart of a growing concern about the pervasiveness of sexual assault in the military and how the military responds when a sexual assault is reported. (more…)

Forensic Testimony About Rape Trauma Syndrome

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Should forensic testimony about “rape trauma syndrome” be excluded in civil suits where a rape victim is seeking damages for psychological harm? Based on an opinion by the Washington Court of Appeals in 2010, it appears the answer is this: It depends on the purpose of the testimony.

The opinion was issued in the case of Carlton v. Vancouver Care. In this case, it was undisputed that a woman suffering from severe dementia had been raped by an attendant while residing in a “memory care” facility operated by the defendant Vancouver Care, LLC. She died 13 months later. Her estate then sued the care facility for damages. The central issue was whether and to what extent Ms. Carlton had suffered psychological harm as a result of the rape. (more…)

Should expert testimony about childhood sexual abuse be permitted in Pennsylvania?

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Is it a matter of common sense that a child who has been sexually abused may delay reporting for weeks, months or even years? Is it a matter of common sense that victims of childhood sexual abuse may provide different details over time, and may even recant altogether? Or would expert testimony on these subjects be helpful to a jury? Even if such testimony would be helpful, would it be equivalent to telling the jury that the alleged victim is credible? These questions have arisen in connection with a controversy over expert psychological testimony in Pennsylvania. (more…)

What are the qualities of a good forensic psychologist?

Friday, February 17th, 2012

A young woman who was working on a high school assignment recently contacted me to ask questions about forensic psychology. She asked several thoughtful questions, including this one: What are the qualities of a good forensic psychologist?

In the course of my 30-year career as a forensic psychologist, I have encountered enough forensic psychologists to give me an idea about the qualities that distinguish the best from all the others. Four qualities stand out, in my opinion.


A short step from psychotherapist to forensic expert?

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Question: Is the work of a forensic psychologist far removed from the work of the psychotherapist? Answer: It depends what kind of forensic practice you have in mind. If you were to ask laypeople — and perhaps many psychologists — what forensic psychologists do, I think it’s safe to say that most of the responses probably would be related to the criminal justice system: (more…)

Frye vs. Daubert: Should it matter to the forensic psychologist?

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

From a practical standpoint it shouldn’t matter to a competent forensic psychologist whether the judge applies the Frye standard or the Daubert standard when deciding whether to allow the expert’s testimony. Regardless of the standard applied by the judge, forensic psychologists who adhere to the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology should offer testimony that is scientifically reliable. The Guidelines state: (more…)