Psycho-Legal Attorney Consultation

Attorney Consultation

We meet with attorneys to review psychological matters relevant to the case to assist them in understanding the complexities and nuances of the issues. We provide assistance in telling your client’s story and using powerful case narratives and building case themes to clarify or amplify the psychological elements of your case. Psycho-legal consultation with a forensic psychologist can be helpful even if an evaluation of the client is not necessary or appropriate, or when the need for an expert witness is not indicated. In some cases we conduct an evaluation, review the records, review opinions of opposing counsel’s expert witnesses, then verbally consult with attorneys about our observations and opinions so they can make informed decisions in representing their client to the best of their ability. 

Forensic Psychologist

Attorney consultation services we provide:

  • Case Strategy Sessions
  • Case Analysis and Development
  • Reviewing Opposing Expert’s Reports and Provide a Summary of Key Findings as well as Suggestions for Further Evaluation or Inquiry
  • Assisting in the Development of Direct and Cross-examination Strategies and Questions of Opposing Experts
  • Preparing a Rebuttal to an Opposing Expert’s Report
  • Preparing Witnesses
  • Educating the Attorney About Psychological Research
  • Explaining Psychological Testing Results, Diagnoses, and other Psychological Issues
  • Reviewing and Examining Mental HealthRecords to Identify Salient Mental Health Issues
  • Locating and Recruiting other Expert Witnesses

“It has been said that trials are like theater. The attorney who tells the most compelling story is most likely to prevail.”

Be Prepared for Expert Witness Testimony

Role of the Forensic Psychologist in Court

The expert testimony of a forensic psychologist can help educate the judge and jury on the psychological elements of a case. Trial strategy is based on the assumption the jury absorbs and is impressed by the expert’s opinion. This is where pre-trial consultation with an expert in that field can be crucial.

What the expert finds, and their track record for effective testimony, can be a pivotal moment. Settlement or trial strategy benefits when you consult with a psychologist skilled and experienced in giving such testimony to help you anticipate and stragize around it. In fact, anticipated testimony might drive settlement considerations.

Considerations for the Attorney Before Trial

Credentials Are Only Half the Picture

When an expert is addressing a complicated subject like mental disorders and their role in the alleged offense, jurors may have difficulty understanding and rely instead on heuristics, like credibility, for evaluating the testimony. Research shows that jurors tend to rely on their opinion of the expert rather than the expert’s opinion itself. Credentials and experience can sway the court, unless they are challenged appropriately. 

Articulate, Accurate and Accessible

Being an expert in a field is not synonymous with being a skilled expert witness. There is a science and an art to conveying information to the trier of fact in an articulate and accurate manner that is easy to understand.

The Expert-Juror Interaction

Connecting with jurors and earning their trust is paramount to an expert’s credibility and effectiveness. When you are litigating criminal cases, it is important that the psychological issues be clearly understood by legal counsel and by the trier of fact. Consultation with an expert in forensic psychology will support you in presenting a more powerful and compelling case to the trier of fact.

a woman holding bible swearing on the court

What makes an expert witness credible and effective?

KNOWLEDGE

Knowledge is the primary reason experts are called to testify. The knowledge of an expert can be viewed as the degree to which an expert is perceived to be well informed, competent, or perceptive and to possess or exhibit intelligence, insight, understanding, or expertise.

EASY TO UNDERSTAND

The expert must also effectively portray and explain the content to the jury in a way that is comprehendible based on their limited understanding of the topic.

Although the knowledge of an expert witness based on their education, experience, and certifications is important, observed knowledge very much differs from that of on-paper credentials. Knowledge in this context refers to the expert witness’ ability to effectively explain the content they are discussing. It is essential for witnesses to be able to effectively explain the topic as if they were speaking to a layman, which makes up the majority of juries. For example, the use of visual aids and non-verbal communications such as hand gestures can greatly increase the jurors’ views of the expert’s knowledge of the topic.

CREDIBILITY

Credibility is the foundational element that enables experts to successfully persuade jurors, and it has been the subject of social scientific research for decades. A credible expert will acknowledge weaknesses in their analysis. The most credible experts are those who are honest and direct and advocate for their own opinions. Therefore, attorneys must attend carefully to the expert’s projected credibility in addition to the content of their testimony.

DYNAMISM/ ABILITY TO “TEACH”

An expert’s extensive credentials mean little if they cannot clearly relay and explain their opinions to the trier of fact. An expert may be a distinguished expert in a given field, but if they cannot clearly explain the concepts to the judge or jury, their persuasive power diminishes. The best way for experts to showcase the extent of their expertise is to act as teachers and relay a story to the jury. These factors serve to distinguish a good expert from a great one.

The ability of a witness to exude charisma and dynamism is greatly important. An expert witness may endear themselves to a jury by using simple vocabulary or metaphors and remaining steadfast and inquisitive during cross-examination.

Experts emanating dynamism, coupled with a display of their deep passion and mastery of the subject matter make for an effectual testimony.

Vorwerk Forensic Psychology, Inc.

27525 Puerta Real, Ste. 300-223
Mission Viejo, CA
92691

 

(949) 892-9800
mv@vorwerkforensic.com