United States v. Olhovsky, 562 F.3d530 (3rd Cir. 2009): Treating clinicians vs. expert witnesses

Interesting court decision reviewed in the latest Journal of the American Academyc of Pyschiatry and the Law (39, 1, 2011, pp. 119-120). The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that not subpoenaing the treating psychologist at sentencing was reversible error. The treating psychologist is a fact, not expert witness. “The case illustrates the weight that the courts place on psychiatric and psychological opinions…the appellate court extended to a criminal matter the treating physician doctrine that has been applied in disability cases…the doctrine weighs opinions of treating clinicians over evaluations based on limited or no contact with clients.” The reviewers conclude that “the ruling indicates that, at least in the Third Circuit, forensic evaluations should be extensive, with multiple sessions, to be influential in the court.”


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