Reports and Publications
Chapter 7 of the Juvenile Defender’s Manual (Oct. 2017) focuses on juvenile defenders who may lack the capacity to proceed.
John Rubin & Alyson Grine, NORTH CAROLINA DEFENDER MANUAL, VOL. 1 PRETRIAL (2d ed. 2013). Discusses in detail the standards for capacity to proceed, how attorneys can recognize signs of impairment, the ethical concerns with questioning capacity, and the potential benefits and harms of raising an incapacity question.
John Rubin, UNC School of Government (May 2012). Provides a user-friendly guide for defense attorneys in North Carolina by explaining the requirement of capacity, the procedure for determining capacity, the evidence involved in capacity evaluation, and various capacity issues that arise before and during formal proceedings.
April 2012 report created by the Incapacity to Proceed Committee of the North Carolina General Assembly which includes the Committee’s findings and recommendations for future capacity to proceed legislation.
- Voluntary Intoxication, Mental Capacity, and Defensive Force: Eight Principles on Instructing the Jury
John Rubin, Professor of Public Law and Government at UNC School of Government authored this document in June of 2011.
- North Carolina Civil Commitment Manual: Chapter 7, Automatic Commitment–Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
Chapter 7 of the North Carolina Civil Commitment Manual (2nd Ed. 2011) focuses on insanity and provides information specific to North Carolina for defense attorneys about the legal effect of a Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity plea, the legal definition of insanity, the offenses affected, and the burden of proof.
- North Carolina Civil Commitment Manual: Chapter 8, Commitment of Defendants Found Incapable of Proceeding
Chapter 8 of the North Carolina Civil Commitment Manual (2nd Ed. 2011) focuses on incapacity to proceed and includes a helpful capacity and commitment flowchart in Appendix 8-1.
2007 report by the American Civil Liberties Union on mental illness defenses and how they can be used under North Carolina statutes and case law.
In 2005, The Partners in Justice created this checklist of common traits typical of individuals with a cognitive disability and screening questions an attorney can ask if they suspect their client has a cognitive disability.
A 1993 memorandum by John Rubin, Professor of Public Law and Government at UNC School of Government on the voluntary intoxication defense, its history, elements of the defense, applicability to different offenses, and evidentiary issues.
John Rubin, UNC School of Government (Sept. 1992). ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE MEMORANDUM No. 92/01. Discusses the nature of the diminished capacity defense as it is recognized in North Carolina, how the defense applies to various offenses, evidentiary problems that can arise when the defense is raised, the defendant’s burden of presenting evidence, the prosecution’s burden of persuasion, and jury instructions.
From the Blog
- The latest volume of Behavioral Science Briefs for the Trial Advocate was published recently and is available here. It summarizes research on issues including juror decision-making, mock jurors’ evaluation of firearm testimony, eyewitness identifications, child interviewing, and other topics relevant to the criminal practitioner. A deep understanding of human behavior offers an edge to trial attorneys. …
- Additional considerations for in-person mental health evaluations during the COVID-19 pandemic, 11/5/2020I posted in June 2020 about conducting mental health evaluations on in-custody clients during the COVID-19 pandemic here. In some cases, evaluations have proceeded. In others, defense teams have sought motions to continue to the dangers inherent in-person mental health evaluations of in-custody clients during the COVID-19 pandemic. This declaration by epidemiologist Eric T. Lofgren, …
- As part of our mission to help North Carolina’s public defense community understand forensic science evidence and achieve better outcomes for clients, the office of the Forensic Resource Counsel continues our efforts to make information related to forensic science evidence more easily accessible to attorneys through this website. In that vein, we are pleased to …
- Several attorneys have asked about having in-custody clients evaluated for competency or purposes during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve talked with experts about their availability and many are available, if appropriate measures to ensure safety are in place during the mental health evaluation. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to how to conduct these necessary evaluations, but …
- A deep understanding of human behavior offers an edge to trial attorneys. Yet the sheer volume of studies published each month in the behavioral sciences prevents most dedicated attorneys from remaining abreast of this rich literature base. In support of attorneys who seek to practice at the highest levels, board-certified forensic psychologists Dr. Daniel J. …
- Psychological Assessments in Legal Contexts: Are Courts Keeping “Junk Science” Out of the Courtroom?, 2/19/2020The Association for Psychological Science published a review by Tess Neal, Christopher Slobogin, Michael Saks, David Faigman, and Kurt Geisinger on the psychological assessment tools used by forensic psychologists. The study found 67% are generally accepted in the field and only about 40% have generally favorable reviews of their psychometric and technical properties. The study …
- Why and how to use a Mitigation Specialist in a non-capital case Attorneys who represent clients in capital cases are familiar with the requirement that someone be able to recognize the presence of mental health and psychological impairments serve as a member of the defense team. These professionals, mitigation specialists, are qualified by training and …
- Forensic clinicians may face challenging conditions when conducting evaluations in the correctional setting. By working together to ensure adequate testing conditions, attorneys and forensic experts can address some of these challenges. It is incumbent on the forensic clinician to consider how examination results can be affected by various factors that are especially relevant to forensic …
- New Trial Ordered in DNA Case, 6/6/2019Superior Court Judge Chris Bragg has overturned Mark Carver’s murder conviction and ordered a new trial. Mr. Carver had been convicted in 2011 of the murder of a UNC Charlotte student. Chris Mumma, executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, represents Mr. Carver. She argued and the court ruled that Mr. Carver …
- Probing Questions for Mental Health Experts, 5/24/2019No matter how knowledgeable an expert is, every testimony is subject to limitations of some kind. Dr. John Zervopoulos has created a list of questions designed to help attorneys inquire about these limitations. Useful in and out of the courtroom, this resource can help challenge or strengthen the testimony of mental health experts. Link below: …
April 13, 2020 blog post by John Rubin
Board-certified forensic psychologists Dr. Daniel J. Neller and Dr. Maureen L. Reardon regularly review the latest contents of hundreds of scholarly journals in the behavioral sciences; analyze studies of greatest benefit to trial attorneys; and present key findings in a concise and simple format.
Jeff Welty discusses the increasing use of diminished capacity defenses in North Carolina. Post provides helpful cites of recent North Carolina cases in which the diminished capacity defense was used.
- Psychological Assessments in Legal Contexts: Are Courts Keeping “Junk Science” Out of the Courtroom?
The Association for Psychological Science published a review by Tess Neal, Christopher Slobogin, Michael Saks, David Faigman, and Kurt Geisinger on the psychological assessment tools used by forensic psychologists. The study found 67% are generally accepted in the field and only about 40% have generally favorable reviews of their psychometric and technical properties.
The study also found that legal challenges to the admission of this evidence are infrequent. Legal challenges occurred in only 5.1% of cases in the sample. When challenges were raised, they succeeded about a third of the time. Challenges to the most scientifically suspect tools are almost nonexistent.
UNC School of Government Criminal Law blog post by Jeff Welty from June of 2011 about the voluntary intoxication defense in North Carolina.
- The Science of Implicit Bias: Implications for Law and Policy, National Academies of Science
On March 22-23, 2021, the National Academies of Science will offer a free-to-attend virtual workshop that will explore the scientific basis of implicit bias, its prevalence and impact, and implications for policy and law. The workshop has been organized by an ad hoc planning committee co-chaired by Dr. Camara Jones (Morehouse School of Medicine) and Justice Goodwin Liu (California Supreme Court). The workshop has been convened under the auspices of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Science, Technology, and Law.
The workshop, which will be held from 12:00 pm to 4:45 pm EDT each day, will include moderated panel discussions featuring leading experts. Topics include: Implicit Bias in the Context of Structural Racism The Prevalence and Pervasiveness of Implicit Bias The Foundations of Implicit Bias The Effects of Implicit Bias in Various Environments Mitigation Strategies for Implicit Bias Learn more about the event and the organizing committee, and view the full workshop agenda and speaker biographies, and register to attend here.
The workshop audience will have an opportunity to submit questions during the event.
Implicit bias has been commonly defined as any unconscious or unacknowledged preferences that can affect a person’s outlook or behaviors, and in particular, an unconscious favoritism toward or prejudice against people of a certain race, gender, or group that influences one’s own actions or perceptions. The methods for identifying the presence and degree of an individual’s implicit bias, the presence of implicit bias throughout society, and the successes or failures of attempts to mitigate implicit bias are topics of much scientific inquiry, with ramifications for law and policy as well as a multitude of organizational settings.
Offered by Trauma Research Foundation and Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score. Covers topics including:
• Long term impacts of childhood abandonment
• The aspects of brain anatomy that contribute to the side effects of trauma
• Treating trauma that results from long-term systemic racism
- Understanding the Differing Roles of Forensic Mental Health Practitioners: Do I need an expert, a consultant, or both?Sponsored by NCIDS, Presenter: Dr. Brittany Bate
- Date: Dec. 10, 2020, Presenter: Dr. Maureen Reardon, Offered by NC Indigent Defense Services
Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 and Friday, Nov. 13, 2020
Sponsored by NC Indigent Defense Services and the Office of the Capital Defender
12.50 hours of general CLE credit anticipated
This training is available to current capital roster attorneys, criminal defense investigators, mitigation specialists, and other authorized experts. Registration deadline is Oct. 30, 2020. The full program agenda and registration is available here.
This program is of forensic interest for its focus on development of mental health defenses and evidence. This program will cover topics including family dynamics, attachment disorder, PTSD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and prenatal drug exposure, child death, and other related topics.
If you have any questions about registering or need additional information, please contact Beverly Cates, at Beverly.A.Cates@nccourts.org. If you have questions about the course content, please contact Terry Alford, Trial Resource Counsel, at Terry.W.Alford@nccourts.org.
This PowerPoint presentation created by Lisa Miles provides helpful tips for North Carolina attorneys regarding the voluntary intoxication, diminished capacity or automatism defense
The National Association for Public Defense (NAPD) is hosting this 90 minute webinar, which will be accessible to the public, with a $25 charge for nonmembers. Click here to register for this event.
Description: The objective of this presentation is to help criminal attorneys and investigators understand the effect of head trauma on defendants and victims in criminal cases. Discussion will include an overview of how trauma affects the brain. The presentation will also include discussion of relevent considerations related to criminal cases and traumatic brain injury (TBI) such as aggressive behavior, intoxication, and consent capacity after the occurrence of a TBI.
Speaker: This webinar will be presented by Certified Forensic Nurse, Tara Godoy. She has assisted both prosecution and defense attorneys through consultation and expert testimony and spoken at conferences for the NACDL and the NDIA. Her primary areas of expertise are Strangulation and Blunt Force Trauma. She is also the owner of Godoy Medical Forensics, which has consulted on over 1000 cases nationwide since 2009.
Friday, May 15, 2020
This previously-announced program will now be offered as a webinar instead of an in-person event. If you plan to attend, please register using this link and we will send you the WebEx instructions by email prior to the program. If you have questions, please email Sarah.R.Olson@nccourts.org.
Co-Sponsored by the Guilford County Public Defender’s Office and Indigent Defense Services. 1 hour of general CLE credit anticipated. Participants will be billed $3.50 for the CLE credit by the State Bar.
Mental health experts routinely rely upon psychological testing when formulating psycholegal opinions; however, the recent study “Psychological Assessments in Legal Contexts: Are Courts Keeping ‘Junk Science’ Out of the Courtroom?” published by the Association for Psychological Science found that expert testimony based on tests are rarely subject to Daubert challenges. In this 1-hour CLE, Dr. Maureen L. Reardon will review the key findings from this study and its implications for practicing attorneys. Specifically, this seminar offers practical guidance on resources and strategies for scrutinizing the quality, selection, and use of psychological tests in criminal forensic practice.
- Identify at least two resources that provide information about psychometric properties of published psychological tests
- Apply Daubert criteria to psychological and forensic assessment instruments
Maureen L. Reardon, Ph.D received her doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Florida State University and is board certified in forensic psychology (ABPP). During her tenure with the Federal Bureau of Prisons she completed evaluations of competency, sanity, and violence risk and, for two years, was responsible for the oversight of the institution’s forensic evaluation program. Dr. Reardon is in independent practice in Raleigh, NC, is Past President of the American Board of Forensic Psychology, and is the current Co-Chair of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology Continuing Education Program.
Friday, January 10, 2020
NC Judicial Center, 901 Corporate Center Drive, Raleigh, NC
Sponsored by NC Indigent Defense Services
5.0 hours of General CLE Credit anticipated
The NC Office of Indigent Defense Services will offer a continuing education program that is designed to enhance the knowledge of criminal defense attorneys regarding the use of expert testimony to communicate about scientific evidence. The program will teach attorneys to prepare, direct, and cross-examine mental health experts.
The program is open to both criminal defense attorneys and mental health experts. This is a practical skills course and will include a demonstration of direct and cross-examination of mental health experts as well as feedback from mock jurors. The agenda is available here.
The cost for the program is $40, which includes lunch. IDS will cover the registration cost for IDS employees. Please complete this form and mail your registration check to register.
Dr. Amy James, PsyD, is offering a one-day CLE program for attorneys in New Bern, NC. To register, email email@example.com by Aug. 15, 2019. The cost is $175.00.
A PowerPoint presentation created in 2008 by Wake County’s Office of Public Defender provides helpful tips for North Carolina attorneys when they suspect that their client may be incapable of proceeding to trial.
Published by the American Psychiatric Association, the DSM* uses standard language and criteria for the classification of mental disorders and is relied upon by clinicians and researchers to diagnose and classify mental disorders.
*Since its initial publication the DSM has been updated seven times. The most current version, updated in 2013, is the 5th edition (DSM-5).
Dr. Wilkie Wilson’s testimony on decedent’s behavior being consistent with methamphetamine intoxication violated Rule 702(a)(1), where he had not examined the decedent and based his opinion on witness statements and a medical report from 2014.
For the 2008 Public Defender Spring Conference, Lisa Miles surveys 186 cases in which the court found evidence sufficient or not sufficient to warrant an instruction on voluntary intoxication, diminished capacity, or unconsciousness.
- North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 122C – Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Act of 1985
North Carolina statutes on Mental Health defenses.
Mental Health in the News
- A Novel Effort to See How Poverty Affects Young Brains, by Alla Katsnelson, New York Times, 4/7/2021
- Scientists Implant and Then Reverse False Memories in People, by Sofia Quaglia, Gizmodo, 3/30/2021
- When an I.Q. Score Is a Death Sentence, by Elizabeth Bruenig, New York Times, 1/11/2021
- A killer being tried on murder charges is blaming autism. The autism community is outraged., by Amanda Coletta, Washington Post, 12/2/2020
- As George Floyd Died, Officer Wondered About “Excited Delirium”, by Alysia Santo, Marshall Project, 6/4/2020
- Millions have been invested in the emerging field of neurolaw. Where is it leading?, by Kevin Davis, ABA Journal, 6/1/2020
- Courtroom psychology tests may be unreliable, study finds, by Christina Larson, ABC News, 2/16/2020
- The verdict is in: Courtrooms seldom overrule bad science, by Association for Psychological Science, Association for Psychological Science, 2/16/2020