A new book recently published by Oxford University Press, Forensic Assessments in Criminal and Civil Law: A Handbook for Lawyers, is a great resource for lawyers, judges, and other legal scholars and professionals who work with forensic evaluations. This edited volume brings together top scholars and experts in various areas of forensic mental health assessment to provide useful and relevant information to legal professionals about these evaluations, in both a criminal and civil context.

The Handbook is based on the Oxford Series, Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment, which is a 20-volume series that provides cutting-edge information on each area of forensic mental health assessment. The authors of each of the volume in this 20-book series have authored a chapter in the Handbook that specifically targets legal professionals and the types of information most relevant to them in working with forensic mental health assessments. This volume is a must-have for any legal professional working with forensic assessments.

Forensic Assessments in Criminal and Civil Law: A Handbook for Lawyers

While the vast majority of criminal and civil lawyers must at some time come into contact with a forensic mental health evaluation, either when requested by their side or by opposing counsel, most do not know enough about the practice to be informed consumers. Forensic assessments can vary widely based on the assessor’s personal preferences, and while there are clearly defined “best practices” for most evaluations, there is no official process by which legal professionals can guarantee these practices are being followed.

Designed to meet the specific needs of lawyers, Forensic Assessments in Criminal and Civil Law: A Handbook for Lawyers provides insight into what to expect from forensic mental health evaluations and how to navigate these assessments with skill and competence. The volume is divided into sections by evaluation type: criminal, civil, and juvenile and family evaluations. Each chapter addresses one of the most commonly requested forensic evaluations and is written by a forensic psychologist with both academic and professional experience with that type of evaluation. Specific evaluation types discussed include competence to stand trial in adults and juveniles, criminal responsibility, violence risk in adults, jury selection, eyewitness identification, personal injury claims, civil commitment, workplace disability, child custody, juveniles’ risks and needs, and more. This handbook is a comprehensive, one-stop resource for lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals seeking to further their knowledge of forensic assessments.


“This book should be on the shelf of every lawyer who has ever consulted with or cross-examined a forensic witness. It is clear, comprehensive, and creative, bringing together the very best in their fields to share precisely what lawyers must know. I could not recommend it more highly.”

— Prof. Michael L. Perlin, Director, International Mental Disability Law Reform Project and Director, Online Mental Disability Law Program, New York Law School

“Ronald Roesch and Patricia Zapf have produced a unique volume that is at the same time legally authoritative, scientifically rigorous, and clinically incisive. Forensic Assessments in Criminal and Civil Law should be within arm’s reach of every member of the bench and the bar who deals with mental health evaluations.”

— John Monahan, Shannon Distinguished Professor of Law, Psychology, and Psychiatry, The University of Virginia

“This book provides lawyers and judges with a concise look at the law and practice of behavioral science evaluations for the courts, from the mental health professional’s perspective. The authors assembled for this book represent the cream of the crop. Any lawyer considering using a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker as an expert witness should consult this volume.”

— Christopher Slobogin, Milton Underwood Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School

About the Author(s)

Ronald Roesch is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Mental Health, Law, and Policy Institute at Simon Fraser University. Dr. Roesch is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and is on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services. He has served as Editor of Law and Human Behavior and Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. He is a Past-President of the American Psychology-Law Society and was the recipient of the Society’s Distinguished Contribution to Psychology and Law Award.

Patricia A. Zapf is Associate Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York. Dr. Zapf is the editor of the American Psychology-Law Society Book Series and Associate Editor of Law and Human Behavior. She is also a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, an Advisory Board Member for the International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services, and an Editorial Board Member for Psychology, Public Policy, and Law and International Journal of Forensic Mental Health.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Foundations of Forensic Mental Health Assessment by Kirk Heilbrun, Thomas Grisso, Alan M. Goldstein, and Casey LaDuke

Part 1: Criminal

Chapter 2: Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial in Adults by Patricia A. Zapf and Ronald Roesch
Chapter 3: Evaluation of Criminal Responsibility by Ira K. Packer
Chapter 4: Evaluation of Capacity to Waive Miranda Rights by Alan M. Goldstein, Naomi E. Sevin Goldstein, and Heather Zelle
Chapter 5: Evaluation of Sex Offenders by Philip H. Witt and Mary Alice Conroy
Chapter 6: Evaluation of Violence Risk in Adults by Kirk Heilbrun, Stephanie Brooks Holliday, and Christopher King
Chapter 7: Evaluation for Jury Selection by Margaret Bull Kovera and Brian L. Cutler
Chapter 8: Evaluation for Capital Sentencing by Mark D. Cunningham
Chapter 9: Evaluation for Eyewitness Identification by Brian Cutler and Margaret Bull Kovera

Part 2: Civil

Chapter 10: Evaluation for Guardianship by Eric Y. Drogin and Curtis L. Barrett
Chapter 11: Evaluation for Personal Injury Claims by Andrew W. Kane, Erin M. Nelson, Joel A. Dvoskin, and Steven E. Pitt
Chapter 12: Evaluation for Civil Commitment by Douglas Mossman and Debra A. Pinals
Chapter 13: Evaluation for Harassment and Discrimination Claims by William Foote and Jane Goodman-Delahunty
Chapter 14: Evaluation of Workplace Disability by Lisa Drago Piechowski

Part 3: Juvenile and Family

Chapter 15: Evaluation for Child Custody by Geri Fuhrmann and Robert A. Zibbell
Chapter 16: Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial in Juveniles by Ivan Kruh and Thomas Grisso
Chapter 17: Evaluation of Juveniles’ Risks and Needs by Robert D. Hoge
Chapter 18: Evaluation for Disposition and Transfer of Juvenile Offenders by Randall T. Salekin, Kimberly M. Price, Kathryn E. Tant, Elizabeth W. Adams, Xinying Ang, and Jill Rosenbaum
Chapter 19: Evaluation of Parenting Capacity in Child Protection Matters by Jennifer R. Clark, Mary Connell, and Karen S. Budd