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Explaining to Lawyers the Role of a Forensic Psychologist

I receive more referrals from forensic clients than from lawyers. Each time I tell those individuals I need to speak with their lawyers. This is because the expert witness works for the lawyer and not the client. Whether it is a criminal or civil case, the forensic psychologist needs to discuss if he or she has the forensic expertise for this matter if he or she is comfortable with the case.

There are a few lawyers who are looking to “hire guns”, someone who will present only that evidence consistent with the lawyers position. Even if this was acceptable by professional ethics, it would not be believable to the Trier of fact or the jury. I have never been involved in a case where one side was 100 percent right and the other 100 percent wrong. A well-prepared forensic psychologist will explore the position of the other side to demonstrate they have reviewed all of the material on the case at issue. The forensic psychologist reports to the lawyer fully and directly as to what he or she has found. It is then up to the lawyer to decide if he or she requires the testimony of the forensic psychologist or chooses not to use him or her. The credibility of the expert witness is essential for a successful outcome of the case.

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