What If Your Mental Health Was Judged by An Unscientific Test?

The mental competency of a client is an important part of a case whether it is for them being grated the custody of a child or if they fully understand that what they did was illegal but what if the tests used to determine this are wrong? This recent article (A New Study Challenges the Reliability of Court Psych Exams) had me thinking about the trust put into the results of these tests.

The study published in the journal Psychology Science in the Public Interest reviewed 364 exams commonly used in the legal system and found that one-third of those tests were not generally accepted in the field of forensic mental health.

About 10 percent of those tools had not been subjected to empirical testing at all. The study also showed that it was rare for lawyers to challenge the scientific validity of those tests in court, and even rarer for them to succeed, meaning evidence from those questionable tests was used at trial.

“Each year, hundreds of thousands of psychological assessments are conducted and used in court to help judges make legal decisions that profoundly affect people’s lives,” said Tess Neal, a psychology professor at Arizona State University and team leader of the study.

Opening up story ideas on both sides of the law.

What if a mother or father loses custody of their child (or children) because of the results of a bad psych exam?


What if a lawyer suspects his client is mentally unstable but the tests keep coming back normal?


What if a gang of criminals like using a specific lawyer because that lawyer uses a specific psych exam and the criminals know how to manipulate it to their advantage?


What if opposing cancel challenges the test results but the judge refuses and a criminal goes free, gets custody of a child or is free to abuse their significant other?


What if a judge starts questioning all of the lawyer’s psych exam results?


What if a lawyer takes this fight directly to the National Alliance on Mental Health?


What if an engaged or married couple (one is a psychologist and one is a lawyer) and when these psych exams are called into question, it pits each one against the other)?

Who wants to talk more about how you can use this idea in your current or next story?

[Credit: flickr/pingnews.com]
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