CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Monday, October 12, 2009

Study Measures Accuracy of Forensic Psychiatric Evaluators

Mossman douglas Led by Douglas Mossman, MD, director of the University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry, the study, according to a press release:

showed that a group of psychiatrists who evaluated mental competence from case files of 156 criminal defendants performed at a strikingly high level of accuracy.

In an average of 29 out of every 30 cases, the psychiatrists could distinguish competent defendants from incompetent defendants. That’s a level of performance that exceeds standard diagnostic performance in other areas of medicine, such as spotting breast cancer in mammograms or using advanced imaging methods to detect Alzheimer’s disease.

It also points out one of the basic truths of the justice system, even when dealing with a topic as definitive as expert testimony: ultimate decisions still come down to judgment calls.

“These results help us see how courtroom experts can be quite accurate in distinguishing competence from incompetence, but still reach different conclusions,” says Mossman of the study, which was published online in “Law and Human Behavior,” the journal of the American Psychology-Law Society. “It’s a matter of where experts draw the line on the issue of competence.”

Bookmark and Share

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/crimprof_blog/2009/10/study-measures-accuracy-of-forensic-psychiatric-evaluators.html

| Permalink

Comments

Post a comment