This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
Specifically in relation to sentencing, this handbook is intended to be read in close conjunction with Te Death Penalty Project’s Guide to Sentencing in Capital Cases3


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As indicated, this handbook will adopt a similar approach to dealing with the interface between psychiatry and law as in the Oxford Handbook, specifically in terms of two ‘discourses’, each with its own constructs and methods of enquiry, derived from their very different social purposes and roles (see Chapter 1), with emphasis on the importance of the relationship between the two being based upon mutual understanding, but always with recognition of the importance of the relationship being a clearly ‘boundaried’ one.


Tis handbook is written to be of use to both mental health and legal practitioners, each approaching the ‘frontier’ between disciplines ‘from their own side’. However, although it is similar to the Oxford Handbook, in terms of representing the same frontier between psychiatry and law, in order to restrict its size the main focus is upon aiding mental health practitioners more effectively to navigate the frontier between their disciplines and law, although aspects of the book will also be of direct use to legal practitioners.4


Te roles


of the forensic psychiatrist and clinical forensic psychologist, together with other clinical professionals, are explained in relation to each stage of the criminal justice system within common law jurisdictions in relation to capital cases. Tis will include descriptions of how the validity of expert evidence can be assured, or challenged.


Tis handbook is designed to be accessible as a reliable source of information, focus and explanation for both clinicians and lawyers, but attempts to give a statement of proper clinical practice within legal process, both in terms of clinical assessment and in relation to effectively presenting medical evidence into an adversarial legal arena. Tis includes clear description of diagnostic principles and practice, with an emphasis upon the use of accepted international classificatory systems of mental disorders. Tere is also description of how the problems of using expert medical evidence can vary greatly with the nature of the diagnosis, as well as with the specific legal question(s) at hand.


A model structure for forensic psychiatric assessment and report writing is described, including history taking and examination in the special context where the subject of assessment is often not a ‘patient’ but solely a ‘defendant’ or ‘appellant’. Tis includes dealing with validation of diagnosis in a legal context and, by inference, appropriate means of legally challenging diagnosis. It also offers some ‘ways of thinking about’ core ethical issues that attend all forensic psychiatric practice, but which are particularly acutely focused in relation to clinical assessment and reporting upon capital cases.


Tis handbook is not only designed to be read ‘on its own’, but is also intended to be used in direct relation to education and training events offered by members of Forensic Psychiatry Chambers and the Death Penalty Project. It therefore, effectively, amounts to a ‘course book’ for such education and training.


Finally, since much of the handbook is applicable to criminal legal contexts other than in capital cases, it is hoped that this will further enhance its utility, particularly in developing countries.


Professor Nigel Eastman


3 4


Fitzgerald E & Starmer K (2007) A Guide to Sentencing in Capital Cases. Te Death Penalty Project, London.


It is hoped that legal practitioners wishing better to understand psychiatric, and psychological evidence will refer to the Oxford Specialist Handbook of Forensic Psychiatry.


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