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Strategies for Cross-Examining Psychiatrists in "Mental Health" Proceedings

Peter Stastny, M.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine; and Tom Behrendt, J.D., Connecticut Legal Rights Project

Typically, in "routine" "mental health" proceedings (civil commitment, forced treatment, and guardianship), the petitioning psychiatric institution puts in its case through an expert witness whose testimony is left wholly unchallenged. Unchallenged, because, in most jurisdictions, respondents get a court-appointed lawyer, but are not afforded an expert to assist in their defense. In this workshop, we will explore strategies aimed at challenging the testimony of psychiatric experts working for the hospital and attempt to level the playing field for respondents.