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NCJ Number: 50909 Find in a Library
Title: ROLE OF THE PSYCHIATRIST IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Journal: CANADIAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION JOURNAL  Volume:23  Issue:3  Dated:(APRIL 1978)  Pages:137-142
Author(s): E L GREENSPAN
Corporate Author: Canadian Psychiatric Assoc
Editor
Canada
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: Canadian Psychiatric Assoc
Ottawa, On K2P 2H3, Canada
Format: Article
Language: English; French
Country: Canada
Annotation: THIS ARTICLE EXPLORES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE LAWYER AS ADVOCATES AND THE PSYCHIATRIST AS EXPERT WITNESS IN THE PLANNING OF LEGAL STRATEGY, WHENEVER A SANITY ISSUE IS PRESENT.
Abstract: BEFORE THE ROLE OF THE PSYCHIATRIST IN THE COURTS CAN BE UNDERSTOOD, THE PSYCHIATRIST MUST ACCEPT THE RULES OF THE ADVERSARY SYSTEM AND THE ROLE OF THE LAWYER IN THE JUDICIAL PROCESS. THE ADVERSARY SYSTEM PITS THE OPPOSING PARTIES, EACH FOR HIS OWN CAUSE, AGAINST EACH OTHER. THE LAWYER, AS ADVOCATE, IS ENTIRELY DEVOTED TO DEFENDING THE CLIENT'S RIGHTS AND INTERESTS. IT ENSURES A CONFLICT AND A STRUGGLE TO RESOLVE IT. THE PSYCHIATRIST, AS AN EXPERT WITNESS, IS EXPECTED TO DEFEND HIS STATUS, CLINICAL FACTS, AND PROFESSIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND TO JUSTIFY OPINIONS. BY IDENTIFYING HIMSELF WITH HIS EXPRESSED OPINION, THE PSYCHIATRIST BECOMES THE ADVOCATE OF THOSE OPINIONS, AND THUS CANNOT BE A NEUTRAL, IMPARTIAL WITNESS. BY LAW, TESTIMONY IS CONSIDERED TO BE OPINION, AND AS SUCH, MAY BE ATTACKED OR CONTRADICTED THROUGH CROSS-EXAMINATION. LAW JOURNALS AND FORENSIC PUBLICATIONS HAVE QUESTIONED THE VALIDITY OF PSYCHIATRIC DIAGNOSES BECAUSE OF THEIR INSUFFICIENT MEDICAL CERTAINTY. NO CORRELATION BETWEEN MENTAL ILLNESS AND DANGEROUS BEHAVIOR HAS BEEN PROVEN. AS A RESULT, THE PSYCHIATRIST'S ROLE IN MANY STUDIES INVOLVING COURT DECISIONS IS GENERALLY VIEWED AS UNRELIABLE TESTIMONY. NONETHELESS, THE FUNCTION OF THE PSYCHIATRIST IS TO PORTRAY THE DEFENDANT'S EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL STATES, HOW THESE AND THE INTELLECTUAL PROCESSES WORK, AND HOW THEY MIGHT AFFECT THE INDIVIDUAL'S CONTROL CAPACITY. A COMBINATION OF PSYCHIATRIC OPINIONS, RECOGNIZED FOR THEIR INEXACT NATURE, AND THE DEFENSE LAWYER'S CROSS-EXAMINATION, AIMED AT EXPLORING THE DEFINITIVENESS OF THOSE OPINIONS, SHOULD PREVAIL SO THAT RELEVANT LEGAL AND MEDICAL DETERMINATIONS CAN BE MADE WITHIN THE EXISTING JUDICIAL SYSTEM. NEITHER REFERENCES OR NOTES ARE PROVIDED. (JCP)
Index Term(s): Attorneys; Canada; Cross-examination; Emotional disorders; Expert witnesses; Judicial decisions; Mental disorders; Mental health; Psychiatry; Psychological evaluation
Note: ADDRESS TO THE QUARTERLY STAFF MEETING OF THE CLARK INSTITUTE OF PSYCHIATRY, TORONTO, ONTARIO, APRIL 1977
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=50909

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