Letters to the Editor
Constitutional Right At Issue
Psychiatric News
Volume 41 Number 12 page 31-31

The ruling in People v. Andrew Goldstein, reported in the January 21 issue, shines a bright light on a longstanding, serious ethical issue in forensic psychiatry. As a psychiatrist frequently called upon to testify as a forensic expert, I have always been uncomfortable with the introduction of unchallenged "de facto" testimony via the forensic evaluation process.

Whether collateral third-party interviews are part of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law's (AAPL) "standard practice" guidelines for forensic evaluations, this fact does not trump an accused individual's constitutional right to confront and examine his accusers (even when guised as so-called disinterested third parties). As ethical physicians, we should abhor and seek to avoid all professional expert testimony that might impinge on any of a defendant's constitutional rights.

Finally, when AAPL supports professional practices that potentially abrogate these same constitutional rights, they also collaterally trample on our own.

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