Without expertise in psychology, it can be difficult to discern when witnesses are practicing outside professional standards, providing unsupported opinions, or even misinterpreting testing data. In fact, some experts rely upon the likelihood that an attorney will not challenge their opinions or request to directly examine their testing data. Without knowledge of the research and specific professional standards, junk science frequently goes undetected. The scope and effectiveness of cross-examination can be greatly expanded through consultation. Dr. Roberson’s dissertation focused on impeachment methods of expert witnesses and he has consulted with attorneys and agencies at both the state and federal level. A few examples of helpful things to know when dealing with mental health experts:
Mental health experts often cite psychological testing without providing the actual scores. Anytime you see this it should raise concerns. Scores can sometimes have multiple interpretations which are “cherry-picked” by the expert to support a particular argument.
Psychologists working in the forensic field should strive to adhere to the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists. All attorneys dealing with experts should be aware of these guidelines.
Work Product Analysis services include:
- Examination of professional background for expertise in specific areas (i.e., licensure, certifications, and other training where appropriate)
- Ensuring appropriate tests were administered, scored, and correctly interpreted
- Review of reports and other work products for conformity to professional standards and current research
Verdicts can hinge on the effectiveness of one witness and the testimony the jury is more compelled to believe. Discovering your expert’s weaknesses in the middle of a trial, especially if uncovered by opposing counsel, can be devastating. Dr. Roberson can provide an objective and critical analysis of your expert’s strengths and weaknesses; thus helping you accentuate positives and minimize the damage of impeachment attempts before they even happen.