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Expert Witness | 26 Years Psychiatry, MD

Unlike fact witnesses, who are limited to testifying about what they know or have observed, expert witnesses have the ability to express opinion because, as their name suggests, they are presumed to be "experts" in a certain topic. They possess specialized knowledge about the topic. Expert witnesses are called upon to testify on matters of mental health (clinical expertise) or other areas of expertise such as social, experimental, cognitive, or developmental.[8] The role of being an expert witness is not primary and it is usually performed in conjunction with another role such as that of researcher, academic, evaluate, or clinical psychologist. Clinical forensic psychologists evaluate a defendant and are then called upon as expert witnesses to testify on the mental state of the defendant.

In the past, expert witnesses primarily served the court rather than the litigants. Nowadays, that very rarely happens and most expert witness recruitment is done by trial attorneys. But regardless of who calls in the expert, it is the judge who determines the acceptability of the expert witness.

All ethical expert witnesses must be able to resolve the issue of relating to the case and being an advocate. They must decide between loyalty to their field of expertise or to the outcome of the case.

Your Treatment Provider

As a Treatment provider and your forensic psychologist who administers psychological intervention or treatment to my patients in both criminal and civil cases who require or request these services. In criminal proceedings, treatment providers may be asked to provide psychological interventions to individuals who require treatment for the restoration of competency, after having been determined by the courts as incompetent to stand trial. They may be asked to provide treatment for the mental illness of those deemed insane at the crime. They may also be called to administer treatment to minimize the likelihood of future acts of violence for individuals who are at a high risk of committing a violent offense. As for civil proceedings, treatment providers may have to treat families going through divorce and/or custody cases. They may also provide treatment to individuals who have suffered psychological injuries due to some kind of trauma. Treatment providers and evaluates, work in the same types of settings: forensic and state psychiatric hospitals, mental health centers, and private practice. Not surprisingly, their work may greatly overlap. And although not ethically encouraged, the same forensic psychologist may take on both the role of treatment provider and evaluate for the same client. 

Trial Consultant

Forensic psychologists often are involved in trial consulting and are part of legal psychology. A trial consultant, a jury consultant, or a litigation consultant, are social scientists who work with legal professionals such as trial attorneys to aid in case preparation, which includes selection of jury, development of case strategy, and witness preparation.[7][8] They rely heavily on research. Trial consultants may also attend seminars directed at the improvement of jury selection and trial presentation skills.[8] Becoming a trial consultant does not necessarily require a doctoral degree or even a bachelor's degree. All that is really needed is some level of training.

Trial consultants are faced with many ethical issues. They are not only social scientists; they may be entrepreneurs as well, marketing their business and keeping fixed costs. This is a challenge to their ethical responsibilities as applied researchers who need to be following guidelines of ethical research.[8] Trial consultants are hired by attorneys and conflicts may arise when each party has a different viewpoint on a certain issue, such as which prospective jurors should be excused, whether the jurors’ preferences are appropriate for the case or not, etc. They must always keep in mind that they are employees of the attorneys and are not able to make the ultimate decisions regarding the case.

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