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As trial lawyers must know from voir dire experience, some potential jurors categorically discount psychiatric testimony. Others question why greater use is not made of testimony from mental health experts, who seek to understand and help people with their psychological problems. Not only laypersons, but also writers in the professional literature both exalt and trash psychiatrists and psychologists as expert witnesses. Some writers present the mental health sciences as a body of valuable theory and knowledge which the legal system has failed to appreciate and apply towards the betterment of mankind. Others advise lawyers how to methodically destroy the witness's testimony and show virtually no appreciation of any contribution the mental health sciences can make towards the just resolution of legal issues.
Chief. Forensic Services, and professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
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