Expert for Whom? Court-Appointed Versus Party-Appointed Experts
Psychiatry, Psychology and Law. Publisert online | 2015
We investigated differences in judges' attitudes between court-appointed and party-appointed forensic psychiatric expert evidence, including who commissioned the report and how this impacted on the judges' perception of the evidence presented. We also investigated the experts' views on being either a party-appointed or court-appointed expert. This survey has no explicit preconceptions. It sought to gather information empirically. The attitudes towards the experts are seen both from the legal professionals' view and from that of the experts themselves. Two groups, one of 107 forensic psychiatric experts (39 psychologists, 65 psychiatrists and three non-specialist medical doctors), and one of 157 legal professionals (44 judges, 74 attorneys and 39 prosecutors) responded to an online survey. We found that 88% of the experts had been appointed by the court and of these, 73% preferred to be court-appointed. Fifty-one per cent had also been party-appointed and the most common principal was the defence attorney (46%). Sixty-two per cent of the judges who had an opinion stated that the party-appointed experts did not assist the court. This indicates that the judges clearly preferred independent court-appointed experts.