Within the litigation arena, there are multiple experts that are called upon to assist the trier of fact (the juror) or the judge. Typically a psychological expert is called based on their area of focus for the case being litigated. In civil cases some of the areas of focus are: emotional trauma (after an injury or attack by an assailant); ability to function after a head injury (cognitive or memory issues); evaluation of a child in a custody matter, and developmental issues (diagnoses related to abuse in children such as sexual trauma).
In cases where the issue is of a criminal nature the focus may range from competency of the defendant to stand trial, influence of mitigating factors for the offense during the sentencing phase, not guilty by reason of insanity, personality assessment of the defendant, and prediction of violence and assessment of future risk to name a few areas.
Psychological experts must be licensed to practice. In most venues, they are expected and demanded to have a clinical practice or to be an academician teaching in the area they are testifying about and not have any therapeutic relationship with the person they are evaluating. The psychologist will consider the person’s present condition and past conditions /learning/trauma that may have influenced their condition.
Dr. Kenneth J. Manges applies over 40 years of forensic psychologist experience to assist trial attorneys all over the world, with a wide range of services.