Category Archives: Assessment

Significance of Combining Evaluations of Competency to Stand Trial and Sanity at the Time of the Offense

Chauhan, P., Warren, J., Kois, L., & Well-beloved-Stone, J. (2015). Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 21, 1, 56–59. This study exam­ined the impact of con­joint CST and MSO eval­u­a­tions on foren­sic exam­iner opin­ions. Readers are undoubt­edly aware that con­tex­tual infor­ma­tion may have a sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence on exam­iner decision-making espe­cially under con­di­tions of uncer­tainty. The authors examined […]

Alcohol Intoxication and Blackout

A high per­cent­age of crime is com­mit­ted when both defen­dants and vic­tims are alco­hol intox­i­cated. Forensic clin­i­cians are reg­u­larly asked to eval­u­ate men­tal states at the time of the offense for accused per­pe­tra­tors and vic­tims of alleged crime dur­ing peri­ods of alco­hol intox­i­ca­tion. In crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings, both defen­dants and vic­tims com­monly claim that alco­hol intoxication […]

Competency Restoration in the State of Hawaii: An object lesson

Karen Franklin’s blog is the pre­mier site for ground-breaking issues in foren­sic psy­chol­ogy. Always worth­while and read­able, witty and bit­ing, some­times breath­tak­ing and bold. Her March 9, 2014, post addresses the recent scan­dal at Napa State Hospital in California, which serves the Northern California incom­pe­tent defen­dant and NGRI pop­u­la­tion, sim­i­lar to our Hawaii State Hospital. […]

Assessing Homicidal Mental States at the Time of Offense IV: The 2011 Norway Massacre: Criminal responsibility analysis using the R-CRAS.

The use of foren­sic assess­ment instru­ments is a dis­tin­guish­ing fac­tor in the qual­ity of foren­sic reports (Fuger, Acklin, Nguyen, Ignacio, & Gowensmith, 2013). In insan­ity deter­mi­na­tions, the Rogers Criminal Responsibility Assessment Scales (R-CRAS, PAR, Inc.) are with­out peer as an aide to orga­niz­ing and ana­lyz­ing case data. It is a sys­tem­atic cod­ing mea­sure which permits […]

Assessing Homicidal Mental States at the Time of Offense III: The 2011 Norway Massacre: The 2nd forensic psychiatric examination.

Based on pub­lic­ity and pro­fes­sional com­men­tary (“…intense media cov­er­age, with repeated requests for a new eval­u­a­tion by major news­pa­pers and politi­cians”), the court ordered a sec­ond foren­sic psy­chi­atric exam­i­na­tion of Breivik. It was con­ducted 6 months after the first exam­i­na­tion. The two psy­chi­a­trists “con­ducted a con­sid­er­ably longer eval­u­a­tion, and used addi­tional psy­cho­log­i­cal assess­ment instru­ments.” They […]

Assessing Homicidal Mental States at the Time of Offense II: The 2011 Norway Massacre: The 1st forensic psychiatric examination.

The first exam­i­na­tion con­ducted by two psy­chi­a­trists included 13 inter­views (36 hours total), review of police inter­ro­ga­tions, and col­lat­eral inter­view with Breivik’s mother. They coded the mate­r­ial using the Norwegian ver­sion of the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview Plus for ICD-10, and selected mod­ules of the Norwegian ver­sion of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID-IV). Based […]

Assessing Homicidal Mental States at the Time of Offense I: The 2011 Norway Massacre: Background.

As a court appointed men­tal exam­iner, I am reg­u­larly asked to per­form men­tal state at the time of the offense (MSO) exam­i­na­tions when the court must make a deter­mi­na­tion of crim­i­nal respon­si­bil­ity. A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of these cases involve the killing of another human being. High pro­file cases are often instruc­tive for men­tal exam­in­ers. The […]

Rind controversy redux: Psychological sequelae of adult-child sexual contact.

Forensic psy­chol­o­gists may be called upon to ren­der opin­ions con­cern­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal harm fol­low­ing adult-child sex­ual con­tact. Rind et al. (1998) exam­ined assumed prop­er­ties of CSA and found that psy­cho­log­i­cal harm is vari­able. They found that fam­ily envi­ron­ment was con­sis­tently con­founded with CSA, and explained con­sid­er­ably more adjust­ment vari­ance than CSA. CSA-adjustment rela­tions gen­er­ally became nonsignificant […]

Voluntariness of Confessions

Forensic psy­chol­o­gists work­ing in crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings must be acquainted with the law and behav­ioral sci­ence of con­fes­sions. Voluntariness of con­fes­sions is a deep main­stay of con­fes­sion law, reflected in the Miranda deci­sion. Miranda requires that a con­fes­sion be vol­un­tary, know­ing, and intel­li­gent, though dis­crim­i­na­tion between the lat­ter two prongs is murky. On the issue of […]

Analysis of Competing Hypotheses (ACH) — a method for de-biasing forensic decision making

I recently attended a three day work­shop on school, cam­pus, and work­place threat assess­ment and became acquainted with ACH. It is a method­ol­ogy devel­oped by the CIA and is used to con­sider evi­dence when fac­tors are com­plex or ambigu­ous. Given the many fac­tors that can influ­ence foren­sic deci­sion mak­ing, includ­ing exam­iner deci­sion thresh­olds, cost of […]