Psychology In The Courts

Psychology In The Courts

Field: Psychology

Case Study Facts: Week 4

Referral Question

What are the present intellectual abilities and psychological maturity of the defendant as per the provisions of Title 18, U.S.C., Section 5032 and 5037(d)?

Factual information to be used in write-up of report:

Tests given

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—III

Bender Motor Gestalt Test with immediate and delayed recall

House-Tree-Person drawing test

Kinetic Family drawing test

Reitan-Indiana Aphasia Screening Test

Wide Range Achievement Test—III

11 years old

Robbed a bank in his hometown. Rode bicycle to and from bank. Was picked up by local police shortly after the robbery while on his bicycle.

Currently being held in a youth detention center.

Awaiting trial before a federal judge on 1 count of armed bank robbery (Title 18, U.S.C., Section 2113(A), 2113(d) and 1 count of receiving and possessing a firearm (Title 18, U.S.C., Section 922(x)(2).

Robbed bank with a handgun

Prior to robbery he lived with his mother and was in the 6th grade. He has two siblings. He is the middle child. Natural father lives close but has very little contact. Close to stepfather who was killed a few years earlier via homicide. Significant behavior preceding death of stepfather. No difficulty with pregnancy or delivery. Developmental milestones reached within appropriate time limits. Has been described by classmates and teachers as a “bully.” Does good schoolwork when he is willing to do it but often refuses to do schoolwork. Grades suffer as a result. Causes distractions in class and responds better to structured classrooms. Picks at skin until it bleeds. He has no friends. Receives low but passing grades. Natural parents never married to each other. Natural mother receives welfare. Older sister was reported to be an “honor student.” At the time his stepfather was killed, his great-grandmother died. Mother describes him as irritable and sulky. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital last year due to behavior problems. He stayed at the facility for 30 days, but his mother did not follow up with local outpatient counseling. His diagnosis at discharge from hospital was Major Depressive Disorder, Single Episode, and Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

Current presentation

Average height and heavy build. No glasses. Periodically sucked his thumb. Grooming appropriate. No signs of depression or oppositional behavior. Cooperative. No signs of hallucinations/delusions. Teachers at detention center say he likes to draw attention to himself. Is described as liking to engage in fantasy. Stated he was there for “armed robbery.” Says he robbed bank with a gun given to him by another juvenile. States it was “wrong and illegal.” He knew the name of his attorney and what his job was. Knew what the prosecuting attorney’s job was. Knew what the judge was supposed to do. Stated, “I wish I wouldn’t have done it [armed robbery].” He was unsure what would happen if he were to be found guilty. He described difficulties with sleeping, eating, and concentrating. He stated he “sometimes” feels suicidal. He stated he has no plans of hurting himself. Denied any history of being physically or sexually abused. He stated he missed his family. He did not seem to have an appreciation of the seriousness of his actions of armed robbery.


Average Full Scale IQ. Average Verbal IQ. Average Performance IQ. Above average perceptual reasoning.

Emotional functioning

Results indicate he has good psychological resources but is emotionally immature. He avoids emotional situations. Self-image based on imaginary rather than real experiences. His interpersonal skills are superficial. He is at risk for acting out. He engages in a lot of fantasy.

Discussion – Week 4


Top of Form

Functions of Forensic Psychology Reports Aside from professionalism, there are many reasons why accurate documentation is important when working in a court setting. For example, consider the forensic psychology report that is generated after conducting a forensic psychological evaluation. Most of the time, this report will be your only chance to explain your opinions to the court. Most cases never go to trial, and those that do, often do not use or require testimony by expert witnesses. Therefore, the forensic psychology report and other documentation of a case are extremely important to the court and the players involved in the trial. Likewise, it is crucial to know the type of report or documentation called for in different situations when working within the courts. In this Discussion, you will analyze the functions and importance of documentation generated by a forensic psychology professional in court settings. To prepare for this Discussion:


· Review Chapter 18 in your course text Psychological Evaluations for the Courts, and think about the primary functions of different types of forensic psychology reports and documentation used in court settings. Also, consider the importance of each type of forensic psychology report.


· Review the article “Forensic Report Writing,” and reflect on the importance of forensic reports and documentation in court settings.


· Review the course media, “Chapter 5,” and consider the importance of proper documentation and knowledge of report content to forensic psychology professionals.


· Recall the three primary functions served by forensic psychology reports and documentation to use in this week’s Discussion. Think about the importance of each function you chose.

With these thoughts in mind: Post by Day 4 a brief description of the three primary functions served by forensic psychology reports and documentation. Then explain why those forensic psychology reports and documentation are important in court settings. Be specific and support your position with references to the Learning Resources.

Bottom of Form
Application: Writing Reports for the Courts

Given that documentation is an important skill for a forensic psychology professional working within the courts, you will be asked to write a report for this week’s Application Assignment. To complete this assignment, you will extract the factual material presented in the “Case Study Facts: Week 4” handout, provided in this week’s Learning Resources, and convert it to a formal report.

As for writing the report, there are different ways to do so based on your style of writing, personal preference, statutory mandates, and/or institutional requirements. This week’s Learning Resources provide many different examples of reports that address a variety of court referral questions. Be sure to use these as guides in completing your forensic evaluation report writing in this Application Assignment.

To prepare for this assignment:

· Review Chapter 18 in your course text Psychological Evaluations for the Courts, and focus on the functions and guidelines of forensic psychology reports used in the courts.

· Review the article “Forensic Report Writing,” and think about the types of forensic reports that are used in court settings. Consider the factors that determine which type of report to use.

· Review the article “Ethical Considerations in Writing Psychological Assessment Reports,” and think about the ethical considerations that must be taken into account when writing a forensic report for the courts.

· Review Chapters 1, 2, 7, and 8 in your course text Writing and Communicating for Criminal Justice, paying particular attention to the elements of effective report writing.

· Review Chapter 19 in your course text Psychological Evaluations for the Courts, and think about the important elements included in each type of report and under what circumstances you would use each element.

· Review the “Case Study Facts: Week 4” handout provided in this week’s Learning Resources. Consider the referral question and the information presented.

· Select a report from Chapter 19 in your course text Psychological Evaluations for the Courts on which to model your report.

The assignment: (1–3 pages)

· Describe the type of report from Chapter 19 of your course text that you used as a model for your report and explain why you selected it.

· Write a report using the information from the “ Case Study Facts: Week 4” handout using guidelines from this week’s Learning Resources.

· Explain any ethical considerations that you took into account and why they were taken into account.

· Explain any insights or conclusions you had as a result of writing the report.

· Be specific and support your response with references to the literature.

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.

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