Psychology in the Courts

Application: Preparing for Daubert Challenge Testimony

Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals was a landmark case for forensic psychology professionals as it deviated from the Frye test, which is used as the threshold for judging the reliability of scientific evidence and expert witness credibility. As a result of the Daubert standard, many courts now incorporate language such as Is the methodology underlying the testimony scientifically valid? during pretrial interviews, as well as during the actual trial. The Daubert standard creates a specific standard for judges to use when deciding whether an expert can testify to all aspects of his or her area of expertise and prepared testimony or whether the expert is qualified enough even to testify in the case. In order for a Daubert issue to arise, one of the attorneys in the case presents a Daubert challenge. This prompts the judge to hold a hearing to determine whether the pending testimony of the expert would meet the standard as outlined in Daubert. To be of use to the courts and to provide admissible testimony, forensic psychology professionals must use procedures that meet the level of scientific rigor accepted by their area of expertise, as well as by the court. In order to do this, you must be aware of the standard used by the specific court in which you are to testify, and you must be willing and able to abide by those standards to sound credible and have your testimony accepted in court.

To prepare for this assignment:

· Review the assigned pages of Chapter 1 in your course text Psychological Evaluations for the Courts. Focus on the influence of the Daubert standard on expert testimony of forensic psychology professionals.

· Review the article “Social Science Evidence in the Courtroom: Daubert and Beyond?” Consider the implications of the Daubert standard on the procedures that might be used to evaluate a defendant.

· Review the article “The Effects of Clinical and Scientific Expert Testimony on Juror Decision Making in Capital Sentencing,” focusing on expert testimony and the admissibility of scientific evidence as influenced by the Daubert standard.

· Review the assigned chapters in your course text Coping With Cross-Examination and Other Pathways to Effective Testimony. Consider the ways to prepare for testimony in a Daubert hearing. That is, what preparations would you make to prevent (or address) challenges to your expertise or methods?

· Review the course media, “Chapter 1” and “ Chapter 3,” paying particular attention to the strategies for addressing questions related to credibility. Think about how a forensic psychology professional would use this information in a Daubert challenge hearing.

· Think about the case you selected for this week’s Discussion and evaluate how the Daubert standard might be an issue with respect to the procedures that were used to evaluate the defendant.

· For this Application, assume the following procedures were used for your case:

You relied on information relevant to the case at hand sent to you by the opposing attorneys. You tested the individual’s IQ by using the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—III. You used the MMPI-2 and the Rorschach (Exner scoring system) to assess the individual’s emotional functioning. You conducted several interviews of the individual, which led to the scoring of the Psychopathy Checklist—Revised. You also used information from the FBI’s behavioral analysis unit, which created a profile that directed law enforcement to this individual’s eventual capture. You used this information to come to your conclusions on which you will testify.

The assignment: (1–3 pages)

· Briefly summarize the case you used in the Discussion, including any mental health issues that were involved.

· Explain why and how the Daubert standard might be an issue in regard to the procedures mentioned above that were used to evaluate the defendant.

· Explain how you might prepare to testify if this was, or became, a Daubert challenge hearing.

Support your Application Assignment with specific references to all resources used in its preparation. You are asked to provide a reference list only for those resources not  included in the Learning Resources for this course.