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Fitness to Stand Trial: Court Dispositions


Jager, AD, Fitness to Stand Trial: Court Dispositions, Psychiatry, Psychology and the Law, 7, (2) pp. 227-234. ISSN 1321-8719 (2000) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1080/13218710009524989


Mental health professionals are often called upon by the courts to provide expert opinion evidence to assist the court in dealing fairly with the accused person in the criminal justice system. Common law criteria for fitness to stand trial have evolved over 200 years but remain non-standardized, varying between countries, while sharing certain core characteristics. The courts most often agree with clinical assessments. This study examines all 1109 pretrial fitness assessments performed at the Forensic Unit of the Calgary General Hospital during the period 1991-1997 and measures the agreement between court decisions and the psychiatric opinions (99.8%). It contrasts this with the performance of instruments designed to measure fitness. It also examines the characteristics of the psychiatric reports, which adopt a semi-standardized format. Suggestions are made about the relative appropriateness of psychiatric reports and fitness instruments being used as expert evidence.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Jager, AD (Dr Alan Jager)
ID Code:19914
Year Published:2000
Deposited By:Psychiatry
Deposited On:2000-08-01
Last Modified:2001-05-07

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