General Issues Regarding Psychiatric Testimony
In resolving some types of legal conflicts the court may seek information as to the mental status of one or more of the litigants. Often this information will have a critical influence on the court’s decision. The legal system uses the testimony and observations of ordinary persons in determining certain aspects of a litigant’s mental status such as his motivation. However, the presence of most forms of mental impairment is usually determined with the assistance of experts. The psychiatrist is commonly asked to evaluate litigants and testify as to their mental status. He can provide facts (such as the existence of abnormal laboratory tests) that would not otherwise be available to the court. He can also provide professional opinions as to the litigant’s emotional status. These will be respected by the court and will be given more weight than the testimony of ordinary persons.
KeywordsCriminal Justice Legal Issue Expert Witness Defense Attorney Forensic Psychiatry
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