Psychologists May Not be
Qualified Court Experts
American News Service
“It is considered unethical to switch back and forth between an evaluative and psychotherapeutic role,” consultant on the case David Stein, Ph.D., the chair of the Forensic Psychology Committee of the California Psychological Association, wrote in court papers.
Incompetent or unethical psychological experts in the courts are one of today’s major scandals in the justice system, says Margaret Hagen, author of “Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice“.
In her new book, Hagen reports that the paid opinions of psychology experts who give testimony in court cases have become a $1 billion industry. Judges rely heavily on these mental health professionals and while most operate in good faith, some may be unschooled on the issues in question or unprincipled, Hagen said.
Very little gets challenged once the psychologist makes the recommendation,” said Hagen, a professor of psychology at Boston University.
In looking for ways to guard against the opinions of questionable psychologists, some forensic experts are calling for the better education of judges so they can learn how to screen out unqualified mental health professionals.