Forensic Psychology

MUST USE:  Huss, Matthew T. (2014) Forensic Psychology:  Research, Clinical Practice and Applications 2nd Edition, Wiley-Blackwell.





DB2:  Review the case of Roper v Simmons on page 8 in our textbook and discuss your thoughts about the ultimate outcome.  Why was the amicus curiae filed and how is this case an example of case law vs. statutory law.  Therapeutic Jurisprudence is a term we use to discuss the relationship between law and psychology and in our textbook has been defined as “the use of social science to study the extent to which a legal rule or practice promotes the psychological and physical well-being of the people it affects” (Huss, 2014, p.12).  How does this concept of therapeutic jurisprudence apply to the Roper v Simmons Case?  Also, discuss the difference between criminal law and civil law (be specific and make reference to jurisdiction, stare decisis, mens rea and tort).

DB3: After reviewing the Anna Nicole Smith Case, answer the following:
What court was Anna Nicole Smiths case initiated in and why?
What State Courts were involved and why did the Federal Court get involved?
What did the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rule?  However, which court is the highest court and has the final word?
What did the United States Supreme Court decide in 2006?
E. Pierce Marshall (son of J. Howard Marshall) died in 2006 and Anna Nicole Smith in 2007.  Why did the court battle continue since both parties were deceased and what did the U. S. Supreme Court finally rule in 2011 and why?
Do you agree with the U.S. Supreme courts decision and why?

DB4: Discuss the case of Andrea Yates.  Why was she given two trials?  Why was she found guilty in her first trial and not guilty by reason of insanity in her second trial.  Do you think Andrea Yates had mens rea (knew what she was doing at the time of the crime) or do you think she was insane (at the time she was committing these crimes)?  We will learn more about this in the chapter on Insanity, however, this is an interesting case as there were two trials with very different verdicts.

DB5: In Chapter 2 they discuss the difference between the therapeutic assessment and the forensic assessment.  If you were the Forensic Psychologist hired by the court to assess Andrea Yates, which one would you implement and why?  Which assessment would you utilize if you were hired to treat Andrea Yates mental illness?  In addition would you utilize an unstructured, semi-structured or structured interview and what are the pros and cons of each?  What archival information was available relevant to the Andrea Yates case?  From a Forensic Psychology perspective who are we treating and is it successful?  What are the concerns with Forensic Consultation?

DB6: What does it mean when the courts balance the probative value against the prejudicial value when admitting evidence?  Discuss the history of the admissibility of evidence making reference to Frye v. United States (1923), Dauber V Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc (1997), General Electric Co v Joiner (1997), Kumho Tire Co, Ltd v Carmichael (1999).
Why was Jenkins v U.S. such a significant case for Forensic Psychologists?
When thinking of expert testimony, if a witness provides information that is objected to and the judge agrees, he will advise the jury to strike it from the record?  What does that mean and do you think the testimony given will still influence the juries decision making process?
Why is the courtroom perceived to be an adversarial process and who does it benefit?

DB7:  Based on the video of the clinical psychologists testimony, do you think she was a credible witness.  Did you find her to be knowledgeable and confident when giving her testimony and did you believe what she was saying?  Why or why not?  What did she do, say or not say that supports your reasoning.  What did she diagnose Jeffrey Dahmer with?  If you were a juror on the Jeffrey Dahmer trial would you find him not guilty by reason of insanity based solely on her testimony?  Why or why not?
If you were a juror on any trial, what would be of most significance to you when determining if someone was credible or not credible when giving testimony.  This response is subjective as we all have different perceptions and personalities.  Do any of you have any personal experience serving jury duty?

DB8: What is the difference between a primary and secondary psychopath?  How do they process information cognitively, emotionally and biologically?  Is therapy successful in treating psychopaths?  Why or why not?  Give an example of a psychopath that you are familiar with either from what you’ve learned or the new/television.
In Chapter 4 they also talk about successful psychopaths which is an interesting concept since serial killers are typically thought of when hearing this term.  Give an example of a successful psychopath and relate this person to specific characteristics from Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist Revised.

DB9: Jeffrey Dahmer was a notorious serial killer who murdred 17 young men, engaged in necrophilia and ingested their body parts as well.  After watching the interview, do you think Jeffrey Dahmer is a primary or secondary psychopath and what characteristics does he display from Robert Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist Revised (support this with what you observed during the interview)?  Do you think Jeffrey Dahmer was sincere and expressed true emotion during the interview?  Do you think Jeffrey Dahmer could have been treated successfully.  Why or why not?
Why did Jeffrey Dahmer engage in cannibalism and eat his victims?  What psychologically would account for this behavior?  How many of you were familiar with this case and how do you feel about it after watching the interview?

DB10:  What is meant by violence risk assessment and how is violence defined?  What happened in Barefoot v. Estelle and what precedent did it set?  Do you agree or disagree with the decision?  Discuss the pros and cons of the different types of risk assessments:  clinical, actuarial and structured.  What type of assessment was used in the risk assessment of Paul Bernardo and what potential problems did this cause?

DB11: What is a sexual offender and how would a Forensic Psychologist conduct an assessment of a sexual offender?  According to the DSM-V what is the difference between being diagnosed with a paraphilia vs. being paraphilic and make reference to pedophiles.  Can sexual offenders be successfully treated?
What are your feelings about the Jerry Sandusky case that is mentioned in our textbook…what do you think could have caused him to become a sex offende, what was his sexual preference and how did he choose his victims?  Why was he able to perpetrate victims for so many years and do you think he could be successfully treated?

DB12: What was your reaction to this case?  Would Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka be considered psychopaths and support why or why not?  What type of risk assessment would you conduct and why?  What type of sex offenders would they be (support this with our chapter on Sex Offenders which is your next DB post). How is criminal profiling used in this case and was it helpful?  What were some of the problems/concerns in this investigation that delayed investigators in catching Paul Bernardo?  How was Bernardo ultimately caught and why was Karla Homolka seen as the primary aggressor in the murders of Tammy Homolka, Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French.  Do you think they’d be at risk for future violence and is there potential for them to be rehabilitated.  Why were they called the Ken and Barbie killers and why was Homolka’s role in these crimes underestimated?

DB13: What is civil commitment and why is it necessary?  Discuss the case of O’Connor v Donaldson and how did this change the requirements of civil commitment (make reference to grave disability and need for treatment)?  Do you agree or disagree with this decision and why?  To be civilly committed you have to be diagnosed with a severe mental illness.  What qualifies and what does not qualify as a mental illness in the DSM-V, to be considered mentally ill based on the civil commitment standards?  Why do you think some of the diagnosable mental illnesses in the DSM-V are not considered?

DB14: What does it mean to be competent and who raises this issue?  Briefly describe the following criminal competencies:  competency to waive miranda rights, to be executed and to refuse the insanity plea.  Briefly describe the following civil competencies:  competency to be treated, to execute a will and guardianship.  Why is competency essential to therapeutic jurisprudence?  Discuss the case of Jackson v. Indiana (1972) and how did this change case law?  Do you agree with this decision…why or why not?  What type of an assessment would you use to assess competency and name some forensic instruments that are utilized?