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by Thomas Grisso
by Thomas Grisso

Clinical Evaluations for Juveniles' Competence to Stand Trial: A Guide for Legal Professionals

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• 2005  56pp paperback   ISBN: 9781568870977

In recent years, attorneys and judges increasingly have referred youths for clinical evaluations of their competence to stand trial, both in juvenile and criminal court.  This book is the first guide to assist legal professionals in understanding how these evaluations can be performed by forensic mental health professionals so that they can provide legally relevant information for judicial decisions and offer a developmental psychological perspective that makes such evaluations different when performed with juveniles as opposed to adults.  The guide's approach is consistent with nearly a decade of legal and psychological research on juveniles' capacities as trial defendants, conducted by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice.  Brief sections describe the current state of laws pertaining to juveniles' competence to stand trial, a developmental perspective on the question, the specific methods that mental health professionals can employ when performing such evaluations with juveniles, and ways to use and challenge the results of their evaluations.

The guide's concepts and methods parallel a companion volume for forensic clinicians, Evaluating Juveniles Adjudicative Competence: A Guide for Clinical Practice, in a way that offers the potential for a consensual, cross-disciplinary understanding of the legal, clinical, and developmental issues involved in the process of decision-making about juveniles' competence as trial defendants.

Table of Contents
    The Problem
    The Purpose of This Guide
Part I - The Legal Standard and Process:
    What Is the Legal Standard?
    What Is the Legal Process?
        Raising the Question
        Ordering the Evaluation
        Course of the Evaluation
        Hearing on Competence
        Disposition for Finding of Incompetence
Part II - Taking a Developmental Perspective
    What Mental Disorders Are Relevant?
    What Is Meant By "Immaturity" as a Threat to Competence?
    Does Immaturity Make a Difference?
    What Is Different About Evaluating Youths' Competence to Stand Trial?
Part III - Understanding Clinicians' Evaluations
    The Referral
        Raising the Question
        Identifying the Examiner
        Specifying the Referral Question
    Examiner's Preparation for the Evaluation
        Course of Evaluations
        Notifying Defense Counsel
        Seeking Information From Defense Counsel
        Defense Counsel's Option to Attend the Evaluation Interviews
        Notifying the Caretaker and the Youth
    Evaluating Youths' Clinical and Developmental History and Status
        Historical Information
        Current Status Information
        Psychological Testing
        Feigning Symptoms or Deficits in Abilities ("Malingering")
    Evaluating Youths' Competency Abilities
        Types of Abilities Requiring Assessment
        Exploring "Capacity" to Understand and Appreciate
        Decision-Making Abilities
        Structured "Tests" of Competence to Stand Trial Abilities
Part IV - Using Clinicians' Opinions
    Examiners' Reports and Opinions
        The Nature of the Examiner's Explanations
        The Examiner's Opinion About Competence
    Mental Disorders and Disabilities and Their Implications for Competence
        Mental Retardation
        Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
        Mood Disorders
        Anxiety Disorders
        Thought Disorders
    Developmental Immaturity and Its Implications for Competence

    Responses to Findings of Incompetence
        Incompetence Due to Mental Disorder
        Incompetence Due to Developmental Immaturity or Mental Retardation
In Closing

About the Author
Thomas Grisso, PhD, ABPP, is Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Psychology, and Director of the Law and Psychiatry Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  His research, teaching, and clinical practice during the past 35 years have focused on legal competencies, forensic clinical evaluations, and developmental psychology applied to juvenile legal issues.  He has authored or co-authored numerous books and evaluation instruments on juvenile forensic issues, including the following titles published by Professional Resource Press:  Forensic Evaluation of Juveniles (1998), Evaluating Juveniles Adjudicative Competence: A Guide for Clinical Practice (2005), Miranda Rights Comprehension Instruments (MRCI) (2012), Forensic Evaluation of Juveniles - Second Edition (2013).  The present work is a product of the collaborative efforts of the members of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice, for which Dr. Grisso directed a research project on juveniles' adjudicative competence.  Dr. Grisso is Executive Director of the American Board of Forensic Psychology, and has authored a number of texts on forensic evaluations.  His research and writing to support the quality of mental health professionals' evaluations for courts have been recognized by distinguished contribution awards from the American Psychological Association, the American Board of Professional Psychology, and the Isaac Ray Award from the American Psychiatric Association.

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