U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Treating Psychiatrist as Forensic Evaluator

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 29 Issue: 3 Dated: (July 1984) Pages: 825-830
R D Miller
Date Published
6 pages
Much has been made in the literature of the importance of 'objective' or 'impartial' expert psychiatric testimony in forensic psychiatric cases; one result of this emphasis is a strong feeling that a treating physician cannot present unbiased testimony in court on issues such as competency to stand trial and especially criminal responsibility.
Many states have explicit regulations designed to ensure that expert psychiatric witnesses who testify in criminal cases are not contaminated by past (or even the potential of future) treatment relationships with defendants. The author argues that such policies often prevent mentally ill defendants from receiving treatment from psychiatrists with the most experience in working with forensic psychiatric patients; and that the opportunity to treat as well as to evaluate such patients might well attract more treating psychiatrists to the forensic science field. (Author abstract)