The Champion

October 2011 , Page 36 

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Locating Authoritative Sources on Competence and Mental State at Time Of Crime Assessments

By John T. Philipsborn

There is a wide variation in the knowledge and experience that lawyers bring to bear when legally significant mental conditions are at issue in cases. A lawyer who has acquired pertinent knowledge through research or training (or both) may know of five to ten authoritative works that could be used to explain to a court, or an examining expert, what the framework for a criminal case-related mental condition assessment should be or what issues the lawyer wants to see addressed. However, many lawyers do not have that kind of knowledge at hand.

What follows here is intended to provide a basic toolkit of materials, practical guides, and literature published in the last 15 years that cover professional practices pertinent to “lawyering” the assessment of competence to stand trial, and mental state at the time of offense (MSO), two separate tasks undertaken in criminal cases. The emphasis will be on identifying relevant resources that lawyers should be aware of, and on addressing some basic pr

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