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Handbook of Forensic Psychiatric Practice in Capital Cases


• Information has no relevance to the medical opinion


Addendum reports may be requested for clarity, expansion of particular points, or to consider new evidence.


Issues to be aware of


• Be aware of distinctions between differing legal and medical concepts of mental disorder (see Chapter 2)


• Establish what you have been told, or know, are the relevant legal tests to be applied, so as to avoid inadvertently addressing legal issues by careless use of medical language


• Be careful in the reporting of risk assessments; the purpose of such reporting is quite distinct from that addressing diagnosis and formulation for some reason other than sentencing


• If there is no diagnosed mental disorder, then consider very carefully whether you are able to provide an opinion at all


• Never recommend punishment


• Do not go beyond your instructions, unless this has been discussed with the instructing lawyer


• It is unlikely that mental disorder can ever be said to have ‘caused’ an offence, so take care in describing associations between mental disorder and behaviour – that they are expressed


cautiously and reasonably


68


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