Expert Testimony: Mental Health Professionals in Court. Viola Vaughan-Eden, PhD, LCSW IMPROVING INVESTIGATION & PROSECUTION OF CHILD ABUSE October 21, 2009. Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance Tracy 2007. Federal Rule of Evidence 702. Expert Witness
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Viola Vaughan-Eden, PhD, LCSW
IMPROVING INVESTIGATION & PROSECUTION OF CHILD ABUSE
October 21, 2009
Someone who by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education will assist the trier of fact (a judge or jury) to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue
JUST BECAUSE A JUDGE RULES YOU ARE AN EXPERT, HAVING A FEW CONTINUING EDUCATION HOURS DOESN’T MAKE YOU AN EXPERT
How do I best assist the trier of fact? CONTINUING EDUCATION HOURS DOESN’T MAKE YOU AN EXPERT
FEAR is a CONTINUING EDUCATION HOURS DOESN’T MAKE YOU AN EXPERT
Subpoena Duces Tecum
Why have I been summoned? CONTINUING EDUCATION HOURS DOESN’T MAKE YOU AN EXPERT
What do they think I know that could help their case?
What is the question before the court? CONTINUING EDUCATION HOURS DOESN’T MAKE YOU AN EXPERT
“Knowledge of the rules of evidence and applicable case law is not enough to succeed with the challenging litigation” of cases of interpersonal violence. “…you must possess a thorough grounding in the pertinent medical and psychological literatures.”
Myers, 2005, p xxxiii
Myth 1. Normal-appearing, well educated, middle-class people don't molest children.
Myth 2. People are too quick to believe an abuser is guilty, even if there is no supporting evidence.
Myth 3. Child molesters molest indiscriminately.
Myth 4. Children who are being abused would immediately tell their parents.
Myth 5. Children who are being abused will show physical evidence of abuse.
Myth 6. Hundreds of innocent men and women have been falsely accused and sent to prison for molesting children.
Myth 7. If asked about abuse, children tend to exaggerate and are prone to making false accusations.
Myth 8. By using repeated interviews, therapists or police can easily implant false memories and cause false accusations among children of any age.
The Leadership Council
Myth 1. Allegations of sexual abuse are common during custody disputes and the vast majority of allegations are false, unfounded or unsubstantiated.
Myth 2: A history of battering has nothing to do with child abuse.
Myth 3: Custody transfers to abusive parents are rare.
Myth 4: Fit mothers do not lose custody.
Myth 5: Parental alienation syndrome is a common, well-documented phenomenon.
Myth 6: Children are more likely to be abused in the care of a woman than a man.
Dallam. S. J., & Silberg, J. L. (Jan/Feb 2006). Myths that place children at risk during custody disputes. Sexual Assault Report, 9(3), 33-47.
Consult with other professionals
Calm, Sincere, and Courteous Tone
Appropriate and Businesslike
Honest, Humble, and Understandable Language
Arrive at least 30 minutes early, Patience
Truthful, Objective, and Knowledgeable
The expert witness must not only educate the jurors, but convince them that he or she should be trusted.
Stern, 1997, p. 25
Be Honest Before and During Your Testimony About What You Know and What You are Qualified to Talk About
Don’t Discuss Your Testimony Potential or Otherwise with Anyone Except Privately with the Attorneys
If you feel at risk,
leave with others or ask for an escort
Vaughan-Eden, V. (2008, Summer/Fall).
Be prepared, be proactive, and be professional: Key points to testifying in child abuse cases. APSAC Advisor, 20, 23-26.
Viola Vaughan-Eden, PhD, LCSW Anyone Except Privately with the Attorneys
Child and Family Resources
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