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A Psychologist's Thoughts on Clinical Practice, Behavior, and Life

Legal: Attacking Expert Witness Testimony in Court

Lacking clinical knowledge, it's not easy for a lawyer to attack expert witness testimony in court. Following is what can happen when a lawyer tries to "wing it." I described the psychological tests that I used to evaluate the defendant, One, the Thematic Apperception Test which was developed at Harvard University in the 1930s, consists of placing drawings of people before the patient and asking what they are feeling.

His attorney asked me fervently, "If, I responded...(I no longer remember what he said)...would this indicate that I have sexual problems with my wife?"
Despite the absence of a laughter indicator in court transcription, I replied, in a sober tone, "Sir, I can express no professional opinion concerning your sexual adequacy with your wife."

The courtroom erupted in laughter and even the judge smiled. Thus my advice to lawyers attacking an expert witness in court: Be Prepared!
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