This book is for students who want to know more about the law, students who want to know more about a psychology subspecialty, and anyone who just wants to know more. The book is divided into three parts comprising nine chapters. Chapter one is a history lesson of sorts in that the roots of psychology and the law are explored individually and in their coming together. Chapter two examines the origins of the legal system, the U.S. Constitution, and the ways that its provisions have been utilized by the three branches of government, particularly by the courts. Chapter three brings the first two chapters together by describing how two major constructs, context and perception, are integral to understanding both disciplines. Part II specifically addresses the role of forensic psychology in the courts by beginning with the topcis that seem to be of the utmost interest to readers and students: criminal matters and ethical issues. Chapter four includes various types of crimes, pleas, and punishment relevant to forensic psychology issues and practice. Chapter five presents a discussion of civil matters, including the roles of witness testimony (both expert and eye) and jury selection. Chapter six explores the role of forensic psychologists’ in family court and addresses topics such as “psychological autopsies”, suicide prevention, and the forensic psychologist’s role in the complex matters presented by our changing society and family systems. Chapter seven discusses the forensic psychologist’s role in the juvenile justice system. The final part clarifies and expands on the roles of the forensic psychologist and attorney in court proceedings. Chapter eight provides an outline of the similarities and differences between the professions, and also distinguishes the role of the clinical or therapist psychologist. The final chapter addresses the growing future of forensic psychology.
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This chapter highlights the various roles that a forensic psychologist might play during the course and within the context of a criminal trial. It discusses the ethics of expert testimony, interrogation of suspects, and the psycholegal issues presented in criminal matters. The chapter presents cases made popular by television and social media to illustrate some of these issues. The cases highlighting these points are the murder trials of Jody Arias in Arizona and Brendan Dassey, who was living in Wisconsin but had his case deliberated in federal court. The chapter features profiles of two forensic psychologists. Although both work in the criminal justice system, their roles are quite different, and each has a position integral to the system. Interviews with Drs. Adam Yerke and Trisha Elloyan provide insight into the professional lives of a sex offender evaluator and a prison psychologist, respectively.
This chapter provides an overview of forensic psychology in family court. It highlights the changing modern family and child custody issues. Two areas that might be considered only collateral to family issues are domestic violence and suicide. Suicide was included in this chapter for several reasons: There is an upsurge of teen suicides, which includes children still living with their family of origin; suicide is a major research area for forensic psychologists; and forensic psychologists are in a particularly good position to conduct psychological autopsies when the circumstances require them. Domestic violence was included because even though it is not necessarily limited to family members, it is a problem that does occur in families. Forensic psychologists may be called in to evaluate domestic violence either as a collateral issue to child custody issues or for direct evaluation and testimony.
This chapter distinguishes the roles of the attorney and the forensic psychologist by following their contributions from the pretrial stage through the course of a trial and to the post-trial proceedings. Also, it clarifies their roles and explains the ethical considerations of the forensic psychologist in regard to the question, “Who is the client?” The similarities and differences in the attorney’s and the forensic psychologist’s ethical codes, duties, and relationships are explored. Taking a cue from one of the attorneys interviewed for this chapter, an example of how each role is applied in the case of one legal construct is explored. This construct is “diminished capacity”, which is no longer a defense in California and other states. The case that is recognized as the reason for the abolition of this defense, although over 30 years old, provides an excellent method for explaining the change.
Aside from guidance in the case of a neglected, abused, or abandoned child or an offending juvenile, the forensic psychologist plays an important role in advocating for special needs children and advocating, on their behalf, enforcement of the antidiscrimination laws that apply to the educational system. This chapter is all about children of all ages. It discusses all aspects of children and the law through laws, psychology, and cases. The approach was chronological, in that the first part of the chapter addresses abused, neglected, and abandoned children (usually the youngest), then considers education, and ends with the main forensic psychology topic of juveniles in the justice system—that is, delinquents; their behavior, rights, and punishment; and the laws that affect them. Research into the adolescent brain was cited, as were several topical cases that illustrate the still fluctuating thinking about juvenile justice.
This introductory chapter begins with an overview of the various types of psychology and psychology practice. It focuses on the background of forensic psychology, including its origins and application. The origin of the science was traced to legal and psychological roots that branched out to encompass almost all aspects of the two disciplines at its foundation: psychology and the law. In describing the origins and the evolution of forensic psychology, the chapter describes the work of James Cattell, who was among the first to experiment with the use of psychology in the courtroom, and the case that gave us the McNaughten Rule. To explain why the Queen v. McNaughton case has such historic relevance, the chapter presents some background regarding the United States’ use of the common law tradition from England. Finally, the chapter provides an overview of the topics and format found in the remainder of the book.
After several years of interviewing potential forensic psychology students and answering questions at professional workshops and presentations, it sometimes seems to the author as if most of the interest in forensic psychology is directed to the forensic psychologist’s role in criminal proceedings. However, the role of the forensic psychologist in civil matters is varied and far-reaching. This chapter describes various roles of the forensic psychologist as he or she provides expert testimony in civil cases, consults for civil jury trials, and assesses individuals for competency. The focus of the cases might be breach of contract or various types of torts, including product liability, professional malpractice, and other forms of negligence as well as intentional torts. Juries are known to be susceptible to what are called the primacy and recency effects, retaining the first information related versus retaining the last information related, respectively.
This chapter shows how behavior and the law met and got together. It explains how the two are inextricably intertwined in the United States and how certain aspects of that intertwining became and remain forensic psychology. Two constructs in the study of law and psychology, context and perception, illustrate just how the two disciplines work together and how they can be distinguished from each other. Context and perception in both disciplines provide meaning in and for any given situation. The chapter also presents a case of Elonis v. United States (2015) that encompasses so many psychological and legal issues. It provides a series of interviews with individuals who work in the field. Dr. James Earnest is employed as a forensic psychologist and shares how he achieved his employment goal and what he has been doing for the county for which he works for almost 20 years.
This chapter addresses the future of forensic psychology and its growth. To do that, new topics are introduced to show the breadth of the discipline. First, it explores forensic psychology and its relationship to the American Psychological Association (APA). The APA has well over 100,000 members, and its influence and the opportunities the organization makes available are international in scope (APA history, 2017). Media psychology, neuropsychology, police, gangs, correctional psychology, and terrorism/violence are all potential areas of specialized practice for forensic psychologists. Forensic psychologists are informally guided by Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists (2013). The chapter examines two of them in regard to the importance of diversity considerations. Finally, it briefs two cases specifically related to the work of mental health experts. These cases illustrate the need for mental health experts, issues raised by death penalty sentencing, and the importance of consistency and precedent in the U.S. Supreme Court.
This chapter explains the basic constitutional and legal concepts with which forensic psychologists need to become familiar. Whether the matters are criminal or civil, family or juvenile, forensic psychology can be defined as work in, of, and for the courts. An understanding of the contents of at least the first three of the articles of U.S. Constitution and a few of the amendments is imperative for an appreciation of how the law works, which in turn is critical for those who would be working with, for, and in legal environments. The chapter explains the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, one of the first cases addressing privacy among consenting adults that the U.S. Supreme Court decided, for several reasons. The case represents the zeitgeist of the State of Connecticut and much of the United States through the middle of the 20th century, and explains the process of case briefing.