Forensic assessment of somatoform and functional neurological disorders

Functional neurological disorders (FND) and somatization are common in clinical practice and medicolegal settings. These conditions are frequently disabling and, if arising following an accident, may lead to claims for legal compensation or occupational disability (such as social security disability insurance). However, distinguishing FND and somatization from symptoms that are intentionally produced (i.e., malingered or factitious) may pose a major forensic psychiatric challenge. In this article, we describe how somatoform disorders and FND lie along a spectrum of abnormal illness‐related behaviors, including factitious disorder, compensation neurosis, and malingering. We provide a systematic approach to the forensic assessment of FND and conclude by describing common litigation scenarios in which FND may be at issue. Forensic testimony may play an important role in the resolution of such cases.

The Role of the Child Psychiatrist in Court Cases Involving Child Victims of Sexual Assault

Many jails and prisons in the United States do not have enough mental health professionals (MHPs) to meet the mental health needs of the people incarcerated in these facilities. This article examines strategies used to address MHP shortages in U.S. jails and prisons, including compensation incentives, telemental health services, interdisciplinary health care, flexible work schedules, and training rotations in correctional settings. These measures may help alleviate some of the shortages of MHPs in correctional facilities; however, these shortages will likely persist without broader policy reforms that decrease the size of U.S. correctional pop- ulations or increase the number of MHPs across the country.

Gut Feelings: A Commentary on Recent Findings Involving Biomarkers and Their Relationship to Mental Illness

By Mark I. Levy, MD, DLFAPA fpamed Forensic Psychiatrist Not everyone with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) responds to antidepressant medication. Researchers are increasingly asking “Why?” and coming up with novel understandings. The most common antidepressants prescribed these days are close to a dozen different SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, e.g., the Prozac family of drugs). […]

Determining Competence to Stand Trial: A Brief Breakdown by a Forensic Psychiatric Expert

By Steven H. Berger, MD fpamed Forensic Psychiatrist A person who is incompetent to stand trial cannot have a fair trial.  That is a basic tenet of our American justice system.  What is competence to stand trial?  How is it determined?  What happens if a person is found incompetent? In general, to be competent to […]

Considerations for the Forensic Evaluation of the LGBTQ+-identified Person

Even LGBTQ+-identified youth and adults in the San Francisco Bay Area bubble experience stress associated with being a sexual or gender minority. Please read about Dr. Paul Elizondo’s experience serving LGBTQ+-identified youth and adults in his psychiatric practices in outpatient, residential treatment program, and incarcerated settings.

How Forensic Psychiatrists Evaluate Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury

By Octavio Choi, MD, PhD fpamed Forensic Psychiatrist Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a type of injury that is caused by a sudden and violent blow or jolt to the head. It can result in a wide range of organic/cognitive/emotional injuries and behavioral symptoms, depending on the severity of the head trauma. One area where […]

Six Tips for Choosing the Right Forensic Psychiatric Expert

When it comes to choosing a forensic psychiatric expert, it’s important to select someone who has the right qualifications and experience. This type of expert is typically called upon to provide psychological or psychiatric evaluations, testimony, and reports in legal proceedings, including criminal and civil cases. Here are some key factors to consider when selecting […]

A “What, When, Who, Where, Why, and How” Guide to Forensic Psychiatric Consultation in Criminal Mitigation

Mentally ill and emotionally disturbed offenders comprise a significant group of those whose criminal conduct has brought them into the criminal justice system. This is a worldwide phenomenon. However, it may be even more pronounced in the United States Criminal Justice System.

A Review of Statutes and the Role of the Forensic Psychiatrist in Cyberstalking Involving Youth

Adolescents are increasingly exposed to Internet-facilitated crime as they spend more time online. The mental health risks and legal consequences for youth involved in cyberstalking are growing areas of concern. The nature of online stalking presents several challenges regarding investigation, fair adjudication, fact-finding, and legislation. Laws governing online stalking behaviors inconsistently reference the age of a victim or perpetrator as a factor for consideration in case disposition. During adjudication, the forensic psychiatrist may be asked to evaluate the victim or perpetrator involved in cyberstalking. This article focuses on the current legal landscape governing cyberstalking behavior involving adolescents, the roles a forensic psychiatrist may assume in this context, and the opportunity to bring a developmental perspective to these cases. Paul Elizondo, DO, Dale E. McNiel, PhD, and Rene´e Binder, MD

Video: Can Neuroscience help us eradicate psychopathy? Octavio Choi – TEDx Talk, Portland State University

Dr. Choi digs into the psychopaths brain, literally. He examines how their brain reacts and thinks compared to an average brain, hoping that we do our part to guide the psychopaths to a better life.

What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Answer | Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

We truly live in the golden age of neuroscience. Advances in technology over the past 20 years have given modern neuro-researchers tools of unprecedented power to probe the workings of the most complex machine in the universe (as far as we know).

Two’s Company, Three’s A Crowd: The Problem of Third Party Presence in Forensic Psychiatric Examinations.

Years ago, the distinguished and esteemed George Washington University forensic psychiatrist Robert I Simon MD, who sadly died earlier this year, wrote a wonderful monograph entitled “Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd,” outlining the scientific and ethical problems posed by the presence of a third party during a forensic psychiatric examination. In 2003, a California Appellate […]

The Forensic Psychiatric Report

The following article by Norko and Buchanan from The Journal of Psychiatric Practice describes the purpose and structure of a well written forensic psychiatric report. J Psychiatr Pract. 2015 Jan;21(1):67-71. doi: 10.1097/01.pra.0000460623.40923.47. The forensic psychiatric report. Norko MA1, Buchanan MA. Author information Abstract The construction of a written forensic report is a core component of […]

Effective Use of Forensic Psychiatry in Catastrophic Injury, Toxic Torts, and Multi-Party Litigation

Michael Fox, a partner at the Sedgwick law firm, San Francisco office, together with Ronald Roberts PhD and Mark Levy MD from fpamed, spoke on panel at the International Association of Defense Counsel midyear meeting at Carlsbad, California on February 11, 2014  The powerpoint slides can be downloaded in pdf format here: Effective Use of […]

Bloomberg BNA: The Use of Forensic Psychiatry in Catastrophic Injury and Multi-Party Litigation

Michael Fox, Esq.,  a Partner at the Sedgwick Law Firm and UCSF forensic psychiatrist Mark I. Levy MD, have written this article for the December 9, 2013 issue of Bloomberg BNA discussing the role of forensic psychiatry in the assessment of emotional damages claims in catastrophic injury and multi-party litigation. bbna expert evidence dec9

Three’s A Crowd

Esteemed forensic psychiatrist Robert Simon, MD, published a timeless article several years ago entitled “Three’s A Crowd.” It addresses the recurring problem of (usually) plaintiff attorneys seeking to be present in the room during the defense forensic psychiatric evaluation of their client and the potentially chilling and distorting effects upon the examination that such presence […]

Key Cases Occupy Intersection Between Psychiatry & Law

This article form July 2010 discusses two US Supreme Court Cases that once again looked ambivalently at the issue capital punishment, narrowing the circumstances under which it can be invoked, upholding the role on forensic psychiatric expert opinion in such deliberations while failing to do away entirely with this ultimate and controversial form of punishment. […]

The Value of Forensic Psychiatry in Child Custody

The issue of custody is a difficult one for everyone involved. The decision about who will care for children, and to make decisions that will affect their current lives, will have a distinct impact on their entire life. A forensic psychiatrist often has a lot of weight in the final decision, because of their expertise […]

The Role of Forensic Psychiatry in Probate Law

While many people know the role forensic psychiatry can play in criminal cases, many are surprised to learn that it plays an important role in probate as well. Often, when an individual leaves behind a will, there may be questions about whether they were of sound mind at the time the will was written. The […]

CHOOSING A FORENSIC PSYCHIATRIC EXPERT: The Difference between Treating Clinicians and Forensic Psychiatric Experts

San Francisco Attorney Magazine, summer 2012. In this article Dr. Levy compares and contrasts the different Missions, Methods and Ethical Duties of Forensic Psychiatric (and Psychological) Experts with Treating Clinicians.

Assessing Emotional Damages in Multi-Plaintiff Litigation

Assessing Emotional Damages

Expansion of Liberty Interests Under Parole Conditions: Beyond Anti-psychotics by Susan M. Meffert, MD, MPH, John Chamberlain, MD

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decided the case of United States v. Cope, 506
F.3d 908 (9th Cir. 2007), on November 5, 2007. At issue were the imposition of a lifetime of supervised
release and the special conditions of release.. Dr. Meffert discusses this case and the underlying issues.

Expert Witness Disclosure – Proposed Changes to Federal Rule 26

There are proposed significant changes to the disclosure requirement features of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 26. These changes will extend work product immunity.Congress makes changes to the widely endorsed Aproposal awaiting Supreme Court approval on May 1, 2010, as of December 1, 2010 Experts will no longer be required to disclose draft versions of their FRCP 26(a)(2) Reports. Furthermore they will no longer be required to disclose communication including electronic communication between the expert and the retaining attorney

Meth psychosis presents medical, legal challenges.(FORENSIC MEDICINE)

David Kan, MD, an fpamed forensic psychiatric expert in the diagnosis and treatment of substance abuse, is quoted in the following article on methamphetamine psychosis:  Meth psychosis presents medical, legal challenges.(FORENSIC MEDICINE) By Susan London | March, 2009 Clinical Psychiatry News SEATTLE — Methamphetamine-induced psychosis is a challenging condition from both a medical and legal perspective, according to […]