Current and Past Law and Psychiatry Articles & Columns


The Journal of Psychiatric Practice
(All full-text articles/columns are copyright (c) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, and reprinted with permission.)

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 Articles and columns by Dr. Reid and other professionals from The Journal of Psychiatric Practice, during the period in which he was a Contributing Editor, reprinted with permission from the Journal and its publisher, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Copyright Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Articles and columns may be downloaded and printed using a free .pdf reader (such as Acrobat Reader), but must not be distributed or used for any commercial purpose without permission.  For more information about the Journal, subscriptions, etc., please visit

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Developing a
Forensic Practice

Operations and Ethics for Experts

CLICK HERE to order or learn more.

Information in these articles & columns should not be construed as clinical or legal advice, nor as applicable to any specific clinical or legal situation.  Case material has been altered preclude identification and protect privacy.



March 2013

Avoiding (or Fixing) Problems With Lawyers and Courts

Simple prevention and fixes for common problems in forensic practice

Nov. 2012

How Lawyers View Psychiatric Experts

With Skip Simpson, J.D.

Just what the title implies.

July 2012

Doing Forensic Work III: Marketing Your Practice

Ethical and effective practice marketing


Doing Forensic Work II: Fees, Billing and Collections

More nuts & bolts of forensic practice

Mar. 2012

Doing Forensic Work, I: Starting the Case

Nuts & bolts of forensic practice

Dec. 2011

Psychiatric Aspects of Criminal Responsibility: Insanity and Mitigation

Maureen Burrows, M.D., M.P.H. & William H. Reid, M.D., M.P.H.

Roles of forensic experts in criminal case mitigation

Sept. 2011

Writing Reports for Lawyers and Courts

Forensic report-writing for non-forensic professionals

May 2011

So They Want You to Be Their Medical Director

Considerations about moving from clinician into mental health administration

Mar. 2011

Forensic Psychiatry in the People's Republic of China

Beilin Gao, M.D., Ph.D., William H. Reid, M.D., M.P.H., Jesse Li

Current and past forensic procedures, including recent changes, as described by a Chinese leader in the field.

Sept. 2010

Book Review: The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of Forensic Psychiatry (and Study Guide)

A detailed look at an important new book in forensic psychiatry

Jul. 2010

When Lawyers Call Clinicians

Caveats and suggestions about dealing with calls & requests from attorneys

Mar. 2010

Preventing Suicide

Suicide prevention, expanded from a White Paper delivered in Washington, DC, April, 2010

Jan. 2010

Important New Books in Forensic Psychiatry

Correctional psychiatry, violence, children, testimony, trial consultation

Nov. 2009

Substituted Decision Making: Elder Guardianship & Conservatorship Evaluations

Martha E. Leatherman, M.D. & Katherine E. Goethe, Ph.D.

Capacity evaluations, guardianship evaluations, in geriatric patients & evaluees

May 2009

Borderline Personality Disorder and Borderline Traits in Forensic Psychiatry

Clinical complications, competency, responsibility, intent, malpractice litigation, evaluation

Mar 2009

Prognosis After Suicide Attempt: Standard of Care and the Consequences of not Meeting It.

Statistical and clinical follow-up of persons who survive suicide attempts. Suicide risk assessment after an attempt or other self-injury.

May 2008

Assaults Against Psychiatrists and Other Mental Health Professionals

Risk, reducing risk, generic risk in clinical & nonclinical settings, and risk associated with interpersonal situations, patient perceptions, and patient idiosyncrasies

Mar 2008

The Treatment-Forensic Interface

Conflict of interest and other considerations when mixing patient care & treatment with forensic or expert roles

Jan 2008

A Few New Books

Reviews of new books on ethics, forensic evaluations, malingering, and testifying in court

Nov 2007

Practicing Well: Suicide Risk and Suicide Prevention

Clinical suggestions and case examples regarding assessing and managing patients' suicide potential

July 2007

Personality Disorders and Violence Potential

with Stephen A. Thorne, Ph.D.

A new typology of violence, violent behaviors and risk assessment associated with personality disorders, with case examples

May 2007

Judges' Impressions of Foreign-Trained Psychiatric Expert Witnesses

with Suresh Durgam, M.D.

Survey of judges about jury reactions to testifying experts from different countries and racial & cultural backgrounds

Mar 2007

Firearms Possession by Mentally Ill Persons

by Joseph R. Simpson, M.D., Ph.D.

Overview, with California examples.

Jan 2007

Evaluating and Treating Disabled or Impaired Colleagues

Processes and procedures for working with a physician or other professional colleague whose psychiatric disability or impairment may affect his/her ability to practice safely and competently.

Nov 2006

Assessing Civil Competence

by Brian Crowley, MD

Many people think that mental illness routinely renders patients incompetent to do many things. Dr. Brian Crowley attacks that myth with assessment principles and case examples.

Sep 2006


Treating Antisocial Syndromes

with Stephen A. Thorne, Ph.D.

Dr. Stephen Thorne joins me in discussing differential diagnosis of antisocial disorders and behaviors, choosing treatment objectives, and modern approaches to "what works," including awareness of dynamic, criminogenic, and non-criminogenic variables.

May 2006

When Clinicians Must Testify in Court

Understanding and preparing to testify about a patient.

Mar 2006

Forensic Psychiatry Books

A few books, new & older, short & long.

Jan 2006

Forensic Practice: A Day in the Life

Day-to-day activities in forensic practice

Nov 2005

Forensic Aspects of e-Therapy

by Patricia Recupero, JD, MD, and Samara E. Rainey

Overview of techniques and issues related to Internet-based therapy and patient communication, including verifying identification & credentials, ethics, responsibilities, security, privacy & confidentiality, boundaries, etc.

Mar 2005

Delusional Disorder and the Law

Delusions of various types, risk, treatment, erotomania, stalking, criminal responsibility, trial competency.

Jan 2005

Contracting for Safety Redux

Update on the uses and pitfalls of so-called "no-suicide contracts," "contract for safety," or "no-harm contracts."

Nov 2004

Two Cases From the Forensic Files

Discussions of two forensic psychiatry cases, one involving a jail inmate death, the other alleging emotional damage and questionable behavior by a psychiatrist.

July 2004

Organization Liability: Beyond Respondeat Superior

Risk management in mental health facilities and other clinical organizations, from a legal vulnerability viewpoint.

May 2004

Avoiding the Malpractice Snare: Documenting Suicide Risk Assessment (Guest Column)

by Skip Simpson, JD, and Michael Stacy, JD

Advice and discussion about assessing suicidal patients and documentation of the results, including collateral information, reliability, second opinions, consultation, and no-harm contracts, from two attorneys who practice primarily as plaintiffs' lawyers.

Mar 2004

International Medical Graduates as Forensic Experts

with co-author Suresh K. Durgam, M.D.

Discussion of some factors and perceptions that may limit expert witness opportunities for psychiatrists who received their medical training outside the U.S. or Canada.

Jan 2004

Killing Family Members: Mental Illness, Victim Risk, and Culpability

Lethal violence is unusual among persons with severe and chronic mental illness, but it happens. When it does, the victim is likely to be a member of the patient's immediate family. This column discusses several cases in which family members became victims of violence related to psychosis, morbid depression, or paranoia with intractable narcissistic loss.

Nov 2003

Juveniles Standing Trial: Waiver to Adult Court (Guest Column)

by Diane Schetky, M.D., forensic child psychiatrist.

Sept 2003

Expert Evaluation, Controversial Cases, and the Media

Discussion related to the case and criminal trials of Vincente Gigante.

July 2003

Forensic Use & Abuse of Psychological Tests: Multiscale Inventories (Guest Column)

by Richard Rogers, Ph.D.

May 2003

Back to Basics: Law and Mental Health

Basic U.S. jurisprudence and the interface of clinical work and the law.

Mar 2003

Why Nonforensic Clinicians Should Decline Forensic Referrals

Pitfalls in becoming an expert witness or consultant without forensic training and experience.

Jan 2003

Risk Assessment, Prediction, and Foreseeability

Important principles which separate these three concepts, and recommendations for their use. (Note the typographical error: "RRAZOR" should be "RRASOR")

Nov 2002

Ethics and Forensic Work

This column addresses both "formal" professional ethics codes and less formal (often generic) ethics, such as those suggested by philosophical or societal moral concepts. Focuses on the former.

Sept 2002

Sexual Predator Evaluations & Commitments

Understanding highly specialized assessments for sexual predator commitments.

July 2002

Forensic Work by Nonforensic Clinicians, III: Courts and Trials

Basic introduction to principles and procedures.

May 2002

Forensic Work by Nonforensic Clinicians, II: Reports and Depositions

Basic introduction to principles and procedures.

Mar 2002

Forensic Work by Nonforensic Clinicians, I: Attorney Relationships and Initial Tasks

Basic introduction to principles and procedures.

Jan 2002

Evaluations in Jails and Prisons

Consultations in jails, prisons, and forensic hospitals, including procedures and safety.

Nov 2001

Psychiatric/Psychological Aspects of Terrorism

Terrorism and terror-violence vary from type to type and event to event. Although everyone has a personality, and personality is important in behavior, there is no archetypal terrorist personality, and no mental illness predisposes one to what most people call terrorism.

Sep 2001

False Allegations (guest column)

by Richard C.W. Hall, M.D., forensic psychiatrist, and Ryan C.W. Hall

July 2001

Competence (competency) to Consent

The elements of consent, and a number of misunderstandings about the criteria for consent or refusal of medical procedures.

May 2001

Psychiatry and the Death Penalty

Three aspects of the death penalty that involve mental health professionals: The ethics of psychiatrists' and other clinicians' participating in the sentencing process, the probability of future violence in the context of sentencing process, and sentencing and executing persons with mental retardation. (Note that this column was written before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that execution of mentally retarded persons is unconstitutional.)

Mar 2001

Pregnant Patients' Refusing Medical Care

Case examples of issues in their right to refuse care when refusal may injure their babies.

Jan 2001

Antisocial Personality, Psychopathy, and Forensic Psychiatry

Diagnosis, assessment, forensic relevance, and treatment of antisocial personality Disorder (APD) and its more severe subtype, psychopathy.

Nov 2000

Defending Suicide-Related Malpractice Cases - A Lawyer's Perspective (guest column)

by David T. Schultz, malpractice attorney

Sep 2000

Offenders with Special Needs

Working with patients in prisons and jails.

July 2000


Recognizing malingered psychiatric and neuropsychiatric symptoms.

May 2000

The Insanity Defense: Mad, Bad, or Both?

The "insanity defense" is one of the most misunderstood aspects of forensic psychiatry. This column offers some case examples that explore some of the myths about mentally ill people who are tried for criminal offenses. (Note an error in the text: comments about the "Hillside Strangler" should instead refer to the "Boston Strangler.")

Mar 2000

Staying Ethical Under Pressure

This column focuses on a few ethical issues, some fairly subtle, that can arise when working with attorneys as an expert withness.

Jan 2000

Whom Do You Trust? Patient Care and Professional Relationships

Many professional (e.g., "co-treatment") relationships create a duty of some sort, and thus some potential for liability. Much of this column is about what you should know or do with respect to the other professionals with whom you work.

Nov 1999

Being Sued

What to expect if one is sued for malpractice.

Sep 1999

Impaired Colleagues

Recognizing, and properly dealing with, impaired professional colleagues.

July 1999

Top 19 Things to Remember When Working With Lawyers & Courts

General principles and suggestions for forensic practice.

May 1999

Boundary Issues & Violations

Sexual boundary violations and issues, red flags, reporting, nonsexual bounsary issues.

Mar 1999

Accidents, Suicide and Insurance

I was going to call this column "Accidental Death by Putting a Loaded Gun to One's Head and Pulling the Trigger," but the editor probably wouldn't have approved.

Nov 1998

Criminal Defendant Competence & Responsibility

This column discusses evaluations of criminal responsibility and competence to stand trial, including some general principles and a brief description of the determination processes themselves.

Sep 1998

No-Suicide/Violence "Contracts"

This column discusses the reliability of patients' non-suicide or non-violence/no-harm "contracts" ("contract for safety"), in the context of preventing suicide or decreasing danger to others.

July 1998

Myths About Violent Sexual Predators & Legislation

A discussion of recent legislation affecting the treatment and incarceration of some sex offenders.

May 1998

Standard of Care & Patient Need

This column reflects on psychiatrists' ability to treat inpatients adequately given payers' expectations of very short hospital stays.

Mar 1998

Treating Clinicians & Expert Testimony

Civil and criminal attorneys often refer their clients to psychiatrists or counselors for "treatment" in anticipation of a later report or expert testimony. They may also seek out professionals who have treated the client earlier to help with the legal case. This column highlights the inadvisability -- and sometimes impropriety -- of a treating clinician's becoming a forensic consultant or expert in the same case.