Tuesday, August 31, 2010

iPost: Cal. Supreme Reaffirms Death Penalty Delays

Story at link below


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iPost: Inventory of Legal Knowledge now available from PAR

FYI. I have not seen this so I cannot comment on the psychometric properties. This is an FYI post without comment 


The ILK is designed to assist the forensic examiner in assessing response styles of defendants undergoing evaluations of adjudicative competence. Written in simple language, the ILK contains 61 true-or-false items about the legal process. Orally administered in just 15 minutes, the ILK can be used anywhere—including jails and other secure facilities—and scored quickly.

To detect feigned deficits in legal knowledge, the ILK utilizes two strategies. The first identifies defendants as feigning based on scores that are significantly lower than scores expected by chance. The second identifies defendants as feigning based on scores that are significantly lower than those attained by relevant normative groups.

  • Item content covers charges, pleas, sanctions, defendants' rights, and courtroom procedures, as well as the roles of the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and witnesses.

  • The Item Booklet is separate from the Response Sheet, meaning that test items won't be compromised if a court orders the release of test data.

  • One-tailed binomial p values are used to determine whether the ILK Total Score is significantly above or below the score expected by chance.

  • Cumulative percentiles are used to compare an examinee's ILK Total Score to those obtained by community, clinical, and forensic reference samples.

For a limited time, the ILK Complete Kit (item #6830-KT) and all individual ILK components are available at special introductory prices. For more information or to order, visit our Web site at www.parinc.com or call our Customer Support Center at 1.800.331.8378.


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iPost: Forensic psychology at the crossroads

Check Karen Franklins blog link below for story


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Monday, August 30, 2010

Court Decision: More on Mathis v Thaler (2005, 207, 2010, TX)

This is a follow-up to that quick FYI post I made Friday where I had received a note re: the denial of a federal habeas petition in an Atkin's related case (Mathis v Thaler, 2005, 2007).  Thanks to Kevin Foley, a fountain of legal knowledge and regular ICDP guest blogger, I now have a little more information regarding this case.

Clearly this decision demonstrates that perfecting and pursuing a federal habeas corpus claim is complicated.  As I now understand matters, The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals previously had addressed Mathis' claim of MR/ID, but not in an Atkins context in  2005. At that time the court stated:
The evidence presented to the state trial court showed Mathis to have a low range of intelligence but all above the threshold for mental retardation. Specifically, the expert’s report indicated that Mathis’ full scale I.Q. was 79, his verbal I.Q. was 77 and his performance I.Q. was 85. Testing performed by a psychologist for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice after his conviction reflect different results. Those results show Mathis to have a full scale I.Q. of 62, verbal I.Q. of 65 and a performance I.Q. of 60. The district court held that Mathis failed to present evidence that reasonable counsel, at the time of trial, would have investigated his possible mental retardation further.

One may suspect the reasoning involved and greater insight requires examining the specifics of the intellectual testing history of Mathis.  According to the habeas corpus petition (p. 8-9)  Mathis' IQ of 79 was obtained on the WISC-R in 1991--- if a Flynn Effect "adjustment" had been invoked, the score should be approximately 70.  Hmmmm.....is it possible that the appeals court, which already dismissed the MR/ID claim in 2005 simply did not want to address it again?

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But he doesn't look mentally retarded! Guest post by Kevin Foley on incorrect MR/ID stereotypes

 Kevin Foley, a regular guest blogger and tremendous source of information for the ICDP blog, has provided the following interesting post about the common problem of incorrect stereotypes re: individuals with mild MR/ID.  Thanks again Kevin.

How would a person with mild mental retardation (intellectual disability) act in a courtroom?  I do not know, nor can I find any scientific research that would provide guidance.  But, apparently, some judges feel that they have some sort of special insight into this issue.  Two federal courts have approved trial court findings that persons – both of whom alleged they were mentally retarded – simply did not look and act as if they were mentally retarded.  In the matter concerning James Lee Henderson, where the state court concluded that Henderson was not mentally retarded, “The trial judge also explicitly relied upon his personal knowledge and recollection of Henderson’s in-court demeanor during both the trial and [the state court] habeas hearing.” Henderson v. Quarterman,  U.S.D.C., E.D. Tex., Civil Action No. 1:06-CV-507 (filed Mar. 31, 2008), slip op. at pg. 10.

In an appeal from a denial of a disability claim, the federal appeals court stated, “The ALJ did not err in discrediting Hine’s IQ scores as there is substantial evidence in the record to support this decision. . . . Second, the ALJ found Hines’s demeanor at the hearing inconsistent with a finding of retardation.”  Hines v. Astrue, Case No. 07-3788 (8th Cir., Mar. 25, 2009), slip op. at 6.

The primary problem with the above cases is there is no reliable way to distinguish those who just barely qualify as “mentally retarded” from those who just barely miss qualifying – simply by the way they act in the formal setting of a courtroom – or elsewhere.  As Professor Karen Salekin and colleagues noted, “in comparison with their more severely disabled counterparts, individuals with mild ID are less likely to be identified as having a disability because their outward presentation is not recognizably different from the nonimpaired population.” Karen L. Salekin, et al, Offenders With Intellectual Disability: Characteristics, Prevalence, and Issues in Forensic Assessment, 3 J. Mental Health Res. Intell. Disab. 97 (2010). [Blogmaster comment - I previously reviewed this article in a prior post].

 The findings in Henderson and Hines bring to mind Justice Potter Stewart’s now famous words in his concurrence in the pornography case, Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964) (Stewart, J.,concurring), that he could not define pornography, “But I know it when I see it”.  However, the assessment and diagnosis of intellectual disability is not like pornography. There are formal instruments for assessing intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, and experts who are well-qualified in expressing opinions of whether an individual meets the diagnostic criteria.  It should not boil down to judges, who are not qualified to do so, saying, “I can’t tell you exactly how a mentally retarded person would look and act in a courtroom, but I know it when I see it, and he ain’t mentally retarded.”

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iPost: Kagan's testimony on the death penalty

Transcripts reported at CRIME AND CONSEQUENCES blog link below


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Sunday, August 29, 2010

iPost: Pennsylvania still trying to decide how to implement Atkins

Should judge or jury decide MR/ID in Atkins cases being debated in PA---see story at link below


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