Mastering Expert Testimony
A Courtroom Handbook for Mental Health Professionals
The past two decades have seen a rapidly growing involvement of psychologists and psychiatrists in legal proceedings for criminal cases, divorces, and traffic and industrial accidents. Mental health professionals are traditionally not trained to cope with the legal responsibilities that arise from their routine clinical work and are eager to learn the professional skills that are needed in forensic settings. There is presently no book which focuses entirely on the strategies and verbal tactics employed by attorneys who critically examine and challenge the testimony of mental health professionals. If psychologists and psychiatrists can familiarize themselves with the kind of questions and verbal exchanges that take place in the courtroom, they would be better prepared to provide their expertise in an effective manner. This book fills that need.
Designed as a practical handbook to assist practitioners from all mental health disciplines, it focuses on typical courtroom dialogue between attorneys and mental health professionals who testify regarding their psychotherapy clients and also those who are hired by attorneys specifically to provide expert opinions. The authors, who have extensive experience in the courtroom, offer well-thought-out, effective responses as contrasted with impulsive and weak answers to attorneys' queries. Actual cases are employed to illustrate typical challenges in various legal areas, including criminal law, child custody hearings, and personal injury cases. Certain forensic issues such as the scientific bases of expert opinions, the accuracy of psychological vs. medical tests, and malingering, are emphasized throughout the chapters.
The book is based on the belief that exposure to courtroom dialogue enhances the awareness of appropriate professional responses to an attorney's cross-examination and greatly alleviates fear toward a situation well-known to provoke intense levels of anxiety. Although it is written alluding to the forensic psychologist or psychiatrist, the strategies for the witness are readily applicable in most instances to all mental health professionals. Issues such as therapist bias, unconfirmed observations, and cultural and ethnic factors are clearly relevant to all who provide mental health services.
Table of Contents
Contents: P.H. DeLeon, Foreword. Preface. The Art of Expert Witnessing. Witness Qualification. The Clinical Examination. Psychological Testing. Psychotherapy. Criminal Law. Child Custody Disputes. Personal Injury. Mental Competency and Dangerousness. Faking and Malingering. Neuropsychological Assessment. The Nondoctoral Witness. Deposition. Appendix: Annotated Reference List.
Tsushima, William T.; Anderson, Jr., Robert M.; Anderson, Robert M.
"...present(s) a comprehensive review of potential questions and challenges encountered during a deposition or in court. Even the most skilled attorney may not have considered some of the challenges posed in this text....The advantages of this tutorial in preparing a clinician for trial far outweigh the disadvantages. A clinician reviewing this book prior to testifying in court will feel more comfortable and prepared."
"This book is not only a must-read for anyone faced with the role of expert witness, but a great read...a format that is inviting for both the novice and the veteran....is interesting and informative...and a good tool for bridging the gap between the clinical setting and the courtroom."
—The Clinical Neuropsychologist
"...a welcome primer on the subject....The chapters are well-organized and written in simple language, but do not talk down to the reader....Overall, the volume provides a lively discussion of an important topic which is unfamiliar to many psychologists."
—New York State Psychological Association Newsletter
"This book provides the best help I have seen....provides many, many excellent examples. I have experienced (or anticipated experiencing) many of the lines of cross-examination the book discusses, and in many cases I wish my responses had been as articulate and well-thought-out as the examples provided by Tsushima and Anderson."
—The Journal of Psychiatry & Law
"Thorough, thoughful, and comprehensive, this book provides an excellent examination of common questions and problems faced by mental health professionals on the witness stand. The Tsushima and Anderson book is an excellent choice."
—Stanley L. Brodsky
From the book, The Expert Expert Witness: More Maxims and Guidelines for Testify
"This practice-oriented handbook impressively accomplishes its objective of effectively assisting experienced practitioners from all of the mental health disciplines in understanding and contributing meaningfully to the court's deliberations. Its unique approach of providing specific examples of typical courtroom dialogues between attorneys and mental health professionals, including suggesting 'effective' responses, represents a refreshing approach to continuing education. The extensive courtroom experience of the authors facilitates an appreciation for differentiating between meaningful vs. insignificant issues. Foundations are laid, in both legal and psychological terms, explaining the different approaches taken by the law and the mental health field to such critical issues as 'confidentiality,' the 'role of experts,' and 'client-professional relationships.'"
—Patrick H. DeLeon, PhD, JD
President of the American Psychological Association
"There are few events as traumatic for clinicians as the arrival of the first subpoena and the anticipation of the cross-examination that is forthcoming. Tsushima and Anderson provide good examples of testimony that effectively and thoughtfully presents the expert's views. They also offer good examples of testimony that is ineffective, misleading, or just plain disastrous. Thus teaching by example, this book will be a useful addition to the novice expert witness' preparation for testimony."
Institute for Families in Society, University of South Carolina
"This excellent book should not only appeal to mental health clinicians and forensic psychologists and psychiatrists, but also to forensic examiners from any discipline. Its unique 'role play' format allows the reader to vicariously experience a broad range of adversarial situations in which the reader's testimony can be matched against the well-thought-out responses of the authors'. Thus, instead of having to learn how to respond in an actual agonizing trial and error process on the witness stand, the reader can profit from the authors' obviously extensive experience in judicial proceedings.
I am somewhat embarrassed to report, that even after 25 years of providing testimony in various court proceedings, many of my responses turned up in the 'ineffective,' and 'adequate' categories, rather than in the 'more effective and persuasive' category. I recommend this book to all forensic examiners, whether beginners or seasoned professionals, without reservation."
—Jack S. Annon, PhD
Board Certified in Forensic Psychology, Board Certified in Forensic Medicine
"This book is 'must reading' for every mental health practitioner who is uncomfortable participating as an expert witness--from the treating psychologist/psychiatrist to the neuropsychologist with previous expert witness experience to the nondoctoral clinician. The authors do an excellent job reviewing the elements of preparation for testimony, as well as direct and cross-examination, in all of the key areas of mental health expert testimony. The book's engaging tutorial style (in which 'weak' or 'less thoughtful' answers from the expert witness are readily contrasted with ones that are 'more effective' or 'thoughtful') will contribute immensely to helping the expert witness develop a style in the legal arena that is more effective and less anxiety provoking."
—Philip A. Morse, PhD, Director of Psychology
HEALTHSOUTH New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland and Research Profess