Sample Term Paper On Preparation For Testimony And Specific Courtroom Etiquette

Type of paper: Term Paper

Topic: Psychology, Criminal Justice, Crime, Evaluation, Court, Defendant, Client, Professionalism

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/11/07

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Final project

Abstract
Court sessions require preparation by the expert going to offer his or her testimony in regards to the evaluation of a defendant. This entails going through all the evidence available on the case including the evaluation report. The expert should as well ensure that he or she is aware of the court etiquette expected from him or her. The evaluation process will give the expert most of the information he or she needs to give their testimony in court. It is important, therefore, for him or her to work on additional questions that might be asked in regards to his or her testimony of the defendant. While in court and during the evaluation process, the forensic psychologist should also focus on the ethical and legal considerations that may arise. This entails ensuring that they take into consideration some of the aspects like religion, gender and the culture of the defendant.

Preparing to go to court as an expert witness is crucial in helping the court understand more about the defendant and the situation facing him or her more than they do. Some of the preparations one can work on before going to testify include reviewing all the present evidence present in the court. It is important to have all the evidence present in the case against the defendant. Therefore, it is important to have all the facts about the case in order not to appear unprepared when giving the testimony in court. As part of reviewing the evidence, one should go through the diagnosis and prognosis, the evaluation and the conclusions made from the assessment of the defendant. This will help understand how to answer any cross-examination questions that may be asked regarding the case (Reid, 2010).
The other preparation act one should focus on is doing extensive research on cases similar to the one in court and the value an expert witness added to the court proceedings. Having similar references to the case at hand will go a long way in helping shed a light to the court proceedings and what is going on with the defendant. Etiquette is an essential aspect for anyone who wants to give a good impression to those he or she is addressing. In the case of court proceedings, there is specific courtroom etiquette one should focus on before or during the court session. One of the etiquette to take into is respect to the judge and the jury. It is important to remember that the judge is in control of the courtroom. Therefore, it is important to address him or her and the jury with utmost respect. In this case, creating a positive perception towards you and what you have to tell the court is of utmost importance.
The need to be ethical during the testimony is important. The courtroom is not a place where one can throw ethical practices into the wind. One should always strive to ensure that they remain ethical when giving their testimony to the court. This entails showing high levels of diligence, competence and truthfulness (Gudjonsson, G. (2013).The other key etiquette practice one should ensure they stick by is the ultimate duty to the court. No matter one’s personal view of the situation or the case, it is important to ensure that one remains true to their duty to the court. This entails giving your professional knowledge of the situation and leaving your personal views or opinions in your mind.
Professional jargon is something that should not be used in court. Etiquette in court requires that one use language that can be understood by everyone in the courtroom. Therefore, it is good to refrain from using any scientific jargon that is used by forensic psychologists when they are alone in a room. Remembering that the people in the court are not experts in the same field is important in guiding one to maintain a professional yet understandable use of language.

Cross-examination questions and responses

Some of the cross-examination questions that might be asked during the court sessions may include “what is a psychological test?” One of the possible responses one should give for this question is the definition by (Cronbach, 1990) stating that it is a test that is done in a systematic procedure that compares the behavior of one or two individuals. In order to prepare for this question, one has to consider the impact or the impression that the answer will give to the courtroom and the jury. Therefore, in order to prepare for this question, one needs to do research on some of the possible answers and the quality of each response to the testimony given to the court. This response may prompt further elaboration in terms of the possible measurement instruments used in performing the assessment.
The other question that might be asked during cross-examination may be “are you able to differentiate the retrospective and predictive accuracy during an examination?” the response given to this question will prompt a follow up question that will reflect on the competence of the expert giving the testimony. A “yes” answer may lead to a question on further aspects that help him or her to distinguish various findings of the results. A “no” answer on the other hand, will prompt questions on whether the expert then it shows that he or she may have a problem in making an assertion about the application of the two concepts in making the conclusion from the findings. In order to prepare for this question, one should ensure that they really have a clear understanding and can distinguish between the two concepts. This should be done by reviewing some for the distinctions between the two and doing further research on some of the questions that may arise from the answer given (Gudjonsson, 2013).
The other question that may be asked is on the aspects of validity one considers before making a choice on the standardized psychological instrument to use for assessment. In this case the possible response for the question can be on the administration, the scoring index, and the level of interpretation required. In such a case, one will understand the different characteristics and types of assessment tools. A clear understanding and the fluency of the response will provide a clear indication of how well the psychologist understands his or her work. To prepare for this question, one should do extensive research on some of the quality aspects of instruments and what to take into consideration before selecting an instrument (Rogers, 2008).
The other question that may seem simple and unexpected is “what is median, mean, mode or arithmetic?” this is one of the questions that an expert witness does not expect to be asked during a court session. He or she may be anticipating difficult questions to deal with the evaluation of the defendant. The appropriate answer for this question is providing a description of each of the four terms asked in the question. The mean, median and mode are all measures of central tendency and they play a vital role in understanding and deriving facts from the assessment results. In order to prepare for this question, one should not overlook some of the simple arithmetic definitions and its application that were learnt inhigh school. Before going to court, it is important to ensure that one reviews some of these basic concepts that contribute to the conclusions of the assessment report.

Evaluations

Evaluations used in the case include mental and behavioral observation. In this case, the evaluator wanted to understand Mr. Bumble’s orientation to place, person and reason why the evaluation was being conducted. The evaluator had to have an understanding of the client in terms of his behavior and mental state and this was doe though oral interviews and observations on the client. The evaluator aimed at performing the evaluation on metal and behavioral issues through verbal conversations and observation of the client. His answers would then be compared to records reviewed during and after the evaluation. The aim was to come up with conclusions that would help determine whether he was in a good state to defend him in court. It was evident from his answers that he was oriented in some aspects of his life and disoriented in others especially in regards to date and time. He goes to the extent of saying he hears voices and believes in aliens and vampires (Murrie, Boccaccini, Johnson & Janke, 2008).
The other evaluation done on Mr. Bumble was in his intellectual and cognitive functioning. Here some of the evaluations conducted included 14 different subtests of the WAIS—III. The scale aimed at deriving his IQ and index scores in regards to his mental abilities. The other Full Scale IQ used provides an aggregate of the verbal and performance scores derived from his evaluation and is the most important in assessing the cognitive capabilities of the client. The evaluator also used the Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI) to determine the verbally acquired knowledge of the client. The index would help the evaluator determine whether the client can reason or perform similarly to his peer if placed in the same situation.
The Perceptual Organization Index (POI) also helped the evaluator in measuring the clients’ fluid reasoning and processing as his ability to focus on detail. The Working Memory Index (WMI), on the other hand, was used to help the evaluator to determine the information regarding the individual’s ability deal with information presented to him verbally. The evaluator wanted to have a clear understanding of the level of intelligence and the cognitive level of the client. The evaluation done on the client showed his capabilities and inabilities that could help in further assessing whether he was in a condition to stand in court and defend himself during the trial. In overall the texts on his cognitive functioning aimed at providing a conclusive assessment on some of the key aspects that help the evaluator determine how well or how badly he would have performed in court during his current state of mind.
The other evaluation done is the personality functioning evaluation where the evaluator gave the client two tests on objective personality. Here, the client was to provide information on some basic aspects of his personal life. The test required him to give a profile of his life (Murrie, Boccaccini, Johnson & Janke, 2008). This was based on different aspects of his personality including his emotions, concentration and attention spans and personality types. The main aim of performing these evaluations was to come up with evidence that would determine how his personality helps his mental and cognitive functions. The evaluator had to understand how behavior is relates to his personality and possibly whether it plays a role in the kind of life he has led so far.

Other evaluations that might have been applicable in this case

Other evaluations that might have been used in this case study include adaptive functioning using the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales. This will help in determining the best course of treatment option for the client. In many cases, this evaluation will determine whether the client in question meets the criteria for different treatment options to cure cases of retardation (Eisner, 2010). The other evaluation is the effort for malingering. In this case, the need to know whether the client or defendant is capable of fabricating or exaggerating issues is paramount. In the case of this client, it would be important to understand him and the answers he gives in order to determine the level of honesty he has during the evaluation and court proceedings.

Someone to consult to do these evaluations and why

The persons one might consult with when doing these evaluations is a therapist who will help in guiding in treatment options that might be available depending on the outcome of the tests. In many cases, one need to consult with someone who has more experience in treatment options and he or she will provide an insight on what the treatment options are the effective ones in the case of the current defendant.

Diversity

Some of the things to take into consideration when evaluating a defendant from a different country and culture may include their religion and believes. Different countries have different religions and it might be important to consider how the religion of that individual might have shaped his or her current behavior and mental health. The other thing to take into account is their values and norms. It is important and helps shape the personality of an individual. To a great extent, it will also help in understanding some of the behaviors he or she may exhibit during the evaluation. One may take offence for an action done or use it to judge the individual yet that is something common in their country and culture. The defendant might not know that this is something that is not practiced universally; hence, there is a need to understand their culture including their values and norms (Bank & Packer, 2007).

Things to take into account when evaluating a defendant for testimony if he or she was a different

When evaluating a female defendant for testimony, some of the things to take into account may include the kind of mother she is to her children. The kind of mother she is will help understand the defendant better than one would in the case of a male defendant (Jifkins, 2008). It portrays a picture of her mental state and competence in taking care of herself and another human being. The other aspect to take into account may be the time she begun having sex and how she begun it. The reason for her behavior may arise from their sexual experience she has had over time.

Things to take into account when evaluating a defendant for testimony if he or she was a different religion

Some of the things one would have to take into account when evaluating someone for testimony who is from a different religious background would be their beliefs. The religious background helps shape the thinking of an individual. The religious teaching are always rooted in how an individual things and acts. Therefore, having a clear understanding of some of these teachings and how it might shape behavior is paramount. The other thing to take into consideration is his view on life. Religion shapes how one takes life. Whether he or she will want to live a fulfilling life or want to waste his life as it is valueless to him or her (Bersot&Arrigo, 2011).

The ethical and legal considerations related to the case

Some of the ethical considerations to take into account in this case include the need to respect the dignity and rights of the client. The need to ensure that one does his or her work thoroughly is paramount for an evaluator, but it is important that one is aware of the rights and dignity of the defendant. The language used during the interview is important as it reflects the ethical standards of the evaluator. According to the American Psychological Association 2010, it is important to uphold the respect and dignity of the defendant. This calls for caution and objectivity when dealing with the client. It is important to maintain a professional attitude and respect the defendant’s values and norms (Reid, 2010). The other ethical consideration for this case is the principle of beneficence that prompts the evaluator to make sure that the client is well aware that the evaluation report will be used in court. He or she should always strive to ensure that before the client signs the informed consent sheet, he or she is well aware of the consequences of the evaluation and how it might be used for or against him in court.
Competency is an important issue in any professional work. In the case of a forensic psychologist, this is an important factor that should prevail every time they are performing a duty. This is always reflected in the quality of work done and the ability to answer questions in court. It is only ethical that the forensic psychologist doing the examination in the case study to ensure that he is highly competent in order to produce accurate findings and conclusions. This will not only show commitment to their work, but will also aid the court in coming up with the best decision regarding the client (American Psychological Association, 2010).The legal issues that may arise in relation to this case study may include misuse of information obtained by the evaluator. There are cases where the report falls into the wrong hands and is misused. The evaluation is a medical report and all medical reports should only be used and accessed by authorized persons. Therefore, there is a legal risk that the information may be misused by unauthorized persons (American Psychological Association (1990).

Reflection

The final project has offered a lot of insight on how evaluations of a defendant are conducted by a forensic psychologist. In many cases, one needs to have a clear understanding of some of the basic evaluation tests that needs to be done for a defendant to testify. Therefore, with the completion of this final project, I have a clear understanding of what it entails to conduct an evaluation test as a forensic psychologist. It entails having a deep understanding of what one does. It does not simply means that one should be highly competent in doing the evaluation, but should also be prepared for the court sessions. The court sessions require a deep understanding and research on issues that may arise from the evaluation and the conclusions arrived at from the evaluation.
The valuable things learnt from the completion of the project are to understand that some aspects of evaluation have to be considered when dealing with different clients. It is paramount that one maintains and open mind and understands the background of the person they are evaluating. This will offer an insight to some of the basic aspects o the evaluation results that one might otherwise miss if they assume the background information. From doing this course, I have come to get a deeper understanding of the roles of a forensic psychologist, some of the challenges that may arise and the possible solutions to them. It has not only helped me understand the role better, but has also opened and exposed me to a different view of forensic psychology. It is a field with many roles and responsibilities, but interesting in its own. Overall, the course and project has shaped my thinking and challenged me to go deeper in my thinking and acting than I was before the onset of the course.

References

American Psychological Association. (1990). Ethical principles of psychologists (Amended June 2, 1989). American Psychologist, 45, 390-395
American Psychological Association (2010). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of
conduct.
Bank, S., & Packer, R. (2007). Expert witness testimony: Law, ethics, and practice. In  A.M.
Goldstein (Ed.), Forensic Psychology: Emerging topics and expanding roles pp. 421-445
Bersot, H., &Arrigo, B. (2011). Ethical Issues in Prisoner Treatment, Offender Therapy, and Community Reentry: International Perspectives and Policy Considerations. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice,4(56), 99-102.
Eisner, D.A.(2010). Expert Witness Mental Health Testimony: Handling Deposition and Trial Traps. American Journal of Forensic Psychology, 28, 47-65.
Gudjonsson, G. (2013). Forensic psychology: The first century. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, 129-131.
Jifkins, J. (2008). Legal matters: Understanding subpoenas and how to respond to them. InPsych, Murrie, D. C., Boccaccini, M. T., Johnson, J. T., &Janke, C. (2008). Does interrater (dis)agreement on psychopathy checklist scores in sexually violent predator trials suggest partisan allegiance in forensic evaluations? Law and Human Behavior, 32, 352-362.
30(5), 28-29.
Reid, W .H (2010). When Lawyers Call Clinicians, Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2010;16:253- 257.
Rogers, R. (2008). Clinical assessment of malingering and deception (third edition). New York: Guilford.

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