From Legal Standard to Psychological Measurement

  • Thomas Grisso
Part of the Perspectives in Law & Psychology book series (PILP, volume 3)


The purpose of this chapter is to describe our translation of the legal standards and concepts for competence to waive rights into methods for assessing that competence. It was our goal to develop measures which would be conceptually related as closely as possible to the requirements and concerns of the law when a court weighs the validity of suspects’ waiver of Miranda rights. The experimental measures which we planned to develop were intended to provide the necessary tools for obtaining empirical information about which types of juveniles were more or less competent to waive their rights to silence and counsel. This information could then be used by legislators in forming law controlling the procedures of police and juvenile courts when dealing with interrogation issues. In addition, the results would provide attorneys and judges with an empirical basis with which to weigh the difficult question of the validity of waiver in individual juvenile cases. It was not our intention to develop tools or results which would replace judicial discretion in such matters. As we will explain later in this chapter, the question of the validity of a juvenile’s waiver requires a consideration of more factors than the competence of the juvenile alone. In addition, experimental research can rarely take into account all of the individual characteristics of juveniles which might be relevant in certain cases. The measures, then, were designed to provide results which could stand as guidelines for judicial decisions, thereby improving the consistency and rationality of decision making.


Psychological Measurement Legal Standard Legal Process Juvenile Court Legal Case 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Grisso
    • 1
  1. 1.St. Louis UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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