Sunday

Psychologists acting as expert witnesses for the family courts not qualified ~ Channel 4 News



Around 20 per cent of psychologists acting as expert witnesses for the family courts are not qualified, according to a Channel 4 News investigation broadcast tonight, writes producer Phil Carter.
http://bcove.me/ewstd4vv 

The findings are based on research published on Wednesday for the Family Justice Council (FJC). It was led by Professor Jane Ireland, a forensic psychologist at the University of Central Lancashire.

Prof Ireland and her team were given unprecedented access to psychologists' expert witness reports from three undisclosed courts across England by the FJC, an arm's length body of the Ministry of Justice.

Experts play a critical role in family court cases: research suggests that at least one expert is used in 90 per cent of public law children's proceedings and many cases involve three or more experts.

The majority of these experts are psychiatrists and psychologists, employed to provide expert opinion on a range of matters in these cases, typically including questions as to whether parents have the ability to care for their children, display personality disorders or other psychological issues and whether any such diagnoses are treatable within a timescale suitable for the children involved.

Channel 4 News spoke to families across the country involved in court proceedings and heard time and again concerns about the experts used by the courts to determine whether children are at risk and should be removed from their birth parents.

Secrecy

But because of the secrecy of the family courts - designed to protect the identity of the children at the heart of proceedings - the experts used have largely been beyond scrutiny.

This research is the first time these concerns have been to some degree independently substantiated. The research found serious concerns across a range of issues beyond the startling finding that around a fifth of so-called psychologist expert witnesses are not qualified.

The assessments of the expert reports found that some 20 per cent of the psychologists were working beyond their area of knowledge; around a third had no experience of mental health assessments; and some 90 per cent of experts were not in current practice.

The net result was that the research concluded that around 65 per cent of expert reports in the study were of either 'poor' or 'very poor' quality.

Professor Ireland told Channel 4 News: "I think we were very concerned and perturbed by some of the reports that we read, not just in terms of qualification but also the quality of the reports that we read ..."

'Draconian'

Nigel Priestley, a lawyer closely involved in family proceedings, told Channel 4 News of the gravity of the research's findings. "After the death penalty the most draconian act that the state can do is remove a family's child," he said. "What is at stake for many carers is the loss of their children and on the basis of a report which might or indeed might not be questionable."

He regularly deals with cases where parents feel the expert evidence is flawed. But it is the scale of the problem revealed by the new research which has surprised him.

He said: "If the statistics are that 20 per cent are unqualified that is not just a mess, that is staggering, wrong ... this is not just about making money, this is about removing children very often or, more importantly, protecting children ..."

Disturbing

One of the more surprising findings of the research was that some psychologists were recorded as assessing parents without ever meeting or seeing them.

Prof Ireland told Channel 4 News: "You should never be in a position where you diagnose somebody, or make judgements on them, if you haven't seen them. It goes completely against code of conduct and ethics and it is impossible. You can’t do a paper assessment on a human being, you have to meet that person, understand their interactions, build a rapport and then take your judgement on the basis of that."

But Channel 4 News has learnt that this is not just a problem confined to psychologists. One mother who spoke on condition of anonymity recently left England after a private law family court case over custody of her children.

This case involved some eight expert witnesses. One, a psychiatrist, provided the court with an assessment of a potential change of residence for the children without meeting the mother or the children. The mother described the family court system and the repeated use of experts as barbaric.

The day after the psychiatrist completed the report on the mother he was suspended by the GMC for a separate offence. Yet, despite the concerns over assessing people without ever actually seeing them, it seems that courts are willing to accept such reports.

The research is the first of its kind and clearly has limitations, which the report itself acknowledges. The sample size was relatively small at 126 reports and the methodology to objectively quantify quality is likely to need further refinement.

Concern

But the range and scale of the problems identified suggest that this is unlikely to be explained solely by methodological shortcomings.

Intriguingly, the research also suggests that the problems may extend well beyond psychologists. Indeed, in the course of the investigation, Channel 4 News uncovered serious areas of concern with both psychiatrists and paediatricians as well as play therapists and others providing expert services to the family courts.

"I think the results from the research are enough to suggest that we do need an urgent review across the range of expert witnesses that the courts are employing," said Professor Ireland.

"After the death penalty the most draconian act that the state can do is remove a family's child." ~ Nigel Priestly, Lawyer

"I think the results from the research are enough to suggest that we do need an urgent review across the range of expert witnesses that the courts are employing." ~ Prof Jane Ireland, University of Central Lancashire

More from the UK:

"LETS HEAR IT FOR THE CHILD; RESTORING THE AUTHORITY OF THE FAMILY COURT, BLUE SKIES AND SACRED COWS"
MR JUSTICE COLERIDGE  - ASSOCIATION OF LAWYERS FOR CHILDREN: 21ST ANNUAL CONFERENCE, SOUTHAMPTO


Top judge says legal aid in family cases may disappear ~
Update The president of the family courts, Sir Nicholas Wall, has given a wide-ranging speech to Families Needs Fathers. In it he outlined his own vision for change and also sounded a warning that legal aid in family cases may soon be abolished.
Speech: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Speeches/pfd-speech-families-need-fathers-19092010.pdf


Mr Justice Coleridge: family judges should express themselves forcefully and publicly ~
Family law judges have been unusually vocal recently in sharing their ideas for family justice reform. The latest to put his case is the High Court judge Mr Justice Coleridge, in a speech entitled Lets hear it for the Child; Restoring the Authority of the Family Court, Blue Skies and Sacred Cows given at the Association of Lawyers for Children’s 21st Annual Conference last week.
The traditional role of judges is to speak out in court and stay silent outside of it. But the relatively new head of the family courts, Sir Nicolas Wall, has set a strong example of judicial outspokenness, and it appears that the other judges are following suit in the face of large cuts to the family justice budget. That being said, Mr Justice Coleridge has been a vocal advocate for family justice reform for a number of years.
Speech: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Speeches/speech-coleridge-j-assoc-lawyers-for-children.pdf

A MUST SEE~
He really needs his father video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmerFuzRNZ4
A short scene with Will Smith from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Episode 424).
In the story Will Smith lives with his uncle and his family. In this episode his (biogical) father comes to visit after 14 years. They deside to go on a trip together for the summer but his father sneaks back before the trip to tell his brother (Will's uncle) that Will cannot go...then this comes.
It's one of the best display of acting I've ever seen and it really moved me.


Rocket Surgery? Designating Court Experts. »
Expert witnesses are routinely used in Divorce cases. Expert testimony covers a wide gamut of topics, including; Financial, such as appraisals or accounting, Counseling, regarding fault grounds o.....

A lie cannot live.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.

Shop Amazon from here. Thanks for your support!

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

“Changing a child last name (away from the father’s) is an act of venom”

The time is always right to do what is right.

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Search This Blog

Loading...

Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.

Abuse (7) Abuse of process (4) Admission to practice law (3) Adversarial system (83) Advocacy group (3) Alimony (7) All Pro Dad (1) All rights reserved (1) Allegation (2) Alliance for Justice (2) American Civil Liberties Union (3) American Psychological Association (1) Americans (2) Anecdotal evidence (2) Arrest (1) Bar association (1) Best interests (42) Bill (law) (1) British Psychological Society (1) Broward County (1) Broward County Public Schools (2) Catholic Church (1) Center for Public Integrity (2) Chief judge (26) Child Abuse (48) Child custody (76) Child development (6) Child neglect (2) Child protection (14) Child Protective Services (19) Child Support (63) Children (3) Children's Rights (81) Christmas (3) Circuit court (3) Civil and political rights (14) Civil law (common law) (1) Civil liberties (9) Civil Rights (145) Civil rights movement (1) Class action (1) Communist Party of Cuba (1) Confidentiality (1) Constitutional law (1) Constitutional right (5) Contact (law) (11) Contempt of court (4) Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (1) Coparenting (27) Copyright (1) Copyright infringement (1) Corruption (1) Court Enabled PAS (93) Court order (2) Cuba (1) Cuban Missile Crisis (1) Cuban Revolution (1) Custodial Parent (1) Declaratory judgment (3) Denial of Reasonable Parent-Child Contact (111) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2) Divorce (121) Divorce Corp (6) Divorce Court (1) Documentary (25) Domestic Violence (49) Dr. Stephen Baskerville (5) Dred Scott v. Sandford (1) DSM-5 (1) DSM-IV Codes (1) Due Process (45) Due Process Clause (1) Dwyane Wade (1) Equal-time rule (2) Ethics (1) Events (10) Exposé (group) (1) Facebook (19) Fair use (1) False accusation (4) False Accusations (57) Family (1) Family (biology) (2) Family Court (196) Family Law (112) Family Law Reform (119) Family Rights (87) Family therapy (10) Father (12) Father figure (2) Father's Day (1) Father's Rights (12) Fatherhood (106) Fatherlessness Epidemic (4) Fathers 4 Justice (3) Fathers' rights movement (44) Fidel Castro (1) Florida (213) Florida Attorney General (7) Florida Circuit Courts (18) florida lawyers (30) Florida Legislature (5) Florida Senate (10) Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1) Fraud (1) Free Speech (1) Frivolous litigation (1) Fundamental rights (12) Gainesville (1) Gender equality (1) Government Accountability Project (2) Government interest (2) Grandparent (3) Havana (1) Healthy Children (14) Human Rights (117) I Love My Daughter (56) I Love My Son (8) Injunction (1) Innocence Project (1) Investigative journalism (1) Jason Patric (2) JavaScript (1) Joint custody (8) Joint custody (United States) (16) Judge (5) Judge Judy (7) Judge Manno-Schurr (56) Judicial Accountability (103) Judicial Immunity (7) Judicial misconduct (8) Judicial Reform (3) Judicial Watch (2) Judiciary (3) Jury trial (1) Kids for cash scandal (1) Law (2) Lawsuit (9) Lawyer (8) Legal Abuse (150) Liar Joel Greenberg (17) Linda Gottlieb (1) Litigant in person (1) Little Havana (1) Marriage (6) Matt O'Connor (1) Men's rights movement (1) Mental disorder (1) Mental health (2) Meyer v. Nebraska (1) Miami (43) Miami-Dade County (8) Miami-Dade County Public Schools (1) Miscarriage of justice (42) Mother (4) Motion of no confidence (1) Movie (4) Music (8) Nancy Schaefer (1) National Fatherhood Initiative (1) Natural and legal rights (1) News (90) Nixa Maria Rose (17) Non-governmental organization (1) Noncustodial parent (3) Organizations (60) Palm Beach County (1) Parent (34) Parental Alienation (116) Parental alienation syndrome (14) Parental Rights (35) Parenting (11) Parenting plan (5) Parenting time (6) Parents' rights movement (36) Paternity (law) (1) Personal Story (23) Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1) Pope (1) Posttraumatic stress disorder (27) President of Cuba (1) Pro Se (30) Pro se legal representation in the United States (3) Prosecutor (1) Protest (1) Psychologist (1) Public accommodations (1) Public Awareness (108) Raúl Castro (1) Re-Post/Re-Blog (12) Research (1) Restraining order (4) Rick Scott (10) Self Representation-Pro Se (31) Sexism (1) Sexual abuse (2) Sexual assault (1) Shared Parenting (90) Single parent (6) Skinner v. Oklahoma (1) Social Issues (60) Social Media (1) Spanish (8) Stand Up For Zoraya (48) State school (1) Student (1) Supreme Court of Florida (7) Supreme Court of the United States (5) Tampa (1) Testimony (23) Thanksgiving (2) The Florida Bar (7) Trauma (4) Troxel v. Granville (2) True Story (21) Turner v. Rogers (1) United States (24) United States Congress (1) United States Constitution (1) United States Department of Justice (4) Videos (51) Violence Against Women Act (1) Whistle-blower (3)