About | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline Law Journal Library | HeinOnline

2 Law & Hum. Behav. 1 (1978)

handle is hein.journals/lwhmbv2 and id is 1 raw text is: Law and Human Behavior, Vol. 2, No. 1, 1978

Psychiatric Expertise in Civil
Commitment: Training Attorneys
to Cope with Expert Testimony'*
Norman G. Poythress Jr.,t
The learned treatise approach to challenging the psychiatric expert witness in civil commitment proceed-
ings was investigated in the present study. An Ad Litem's Handbook, modeled after Ziskin (1975), was
written and distributed to a group of attorneys who also received workshop training in aggressively defend-
ing the proposed patients at civil commitment hearings. These TRAINED attorneys were compared with con-
trol groups of attorneys not receiving the training intervention in terms of trial tactics, cross-examination
profiles, and other courtroom behaviors in order to assess the impact of such training and the impact of the
learned treatise approach in civil commitment hearings. Results indicated that, in spite of explicit endorse-
ment of such tactics by the court, TRAINED attorneys did not alter their courtroom behaviors significantly in
directions suggested by the special training and, like their untrained counterparts, did not aggressively
challenge the psychiatric expert whose testimony argued for commitment of their clients.
In recent years the traditional belief that mental health personnel can offer valid data
and opinions to the courts on a variety of issues has been assailed in the legal and men-
tal health literature (e.g., Nietzel, 1974; Ennis & Litwack, 1974; Ziskin, 1975).
Poythress (1977b) discussed current problems in mental health expert testimony and
the various proposals for change which have been offered. One contemporary tactic
for combatting the mental health expert is to use learned treatises as a basis for rebut-
ting/impeaching his testimony:
*The research reported here is based primarily on the author's doctoral dissertation, completed at the Uni-
versity of Texas at Austin, May 1977. The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of Joseph
Horn, Ph.D., dissertation committee chairman, and the other members of the committee for their
tCenter for Forensic Psychiatry, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
0147-7307/78/0300-0001$05.00/0 J 1978 Plenum Publishing Corporation

What Is HeinOnline?

HeinOnline is a subscription-based resource containing thousands of academic and legal journals from inception; complete coverage of government documents such as U.S. Statutes at Large, U.S. Code, Federal Register, Code of Federal Regulations, U.S. Reports, and much more. Documents are image-based, fully searchable PDFs with the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database. For more information, request a quote or trial for your organization below.

Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline.

Contact us for annual subscription options:

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?

profiles profiles most