Proving the Unprovable: The Role of Law, Science, and Speculation in Adjudicating Culpability and…

Hardcover | September 13, 2006

byChristopher Slobogin

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It is hard enough in many cases simply figuring out whether a person has committed an antisocial act. It is harder still to determine the extent to which he or she intended the act, and why he or she committed it. And most difficult of all is divining whether a person will harm again. The lawhas increasingly turned to mental health professionals to help address these issues, particularly the last two. Because of their familiarity with and study of human behavior, psychiatrists, psychologists and other clinicians are thought to possess special expertise in assessing culpability anddangerousness. Members of these groups routinely furnish the courts with evaluations of insanity and other mental state at the time of the offense, and even more frequently proffer predictions about future behavior. Both culpability and dangerousness are exceedingly difficult to gauge; even mental health professionals well-versed in the behavioral sciences cannot claim a high degree of reliability in their efforts to address these issues. Though the current trend in evidence law is to demand a rigorousdemonstration of scientific validity from expert witnesses, especially when those experts are mental health professionals proffered by the defense, this book argues that this is a mistake. Such a position undermines the fairness of the process and could quite possibly even diminish its reliability,given the defense's constitutional entitlement to tell its story and the inscrutability of past and future mental states. At the same time, Professor Slobogin proposes a number of ways the courts can ensure that experts provide the best possible information about ultimately unknowable past mentalstates and future behavior.

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It is hard enough in many cases simply figuring out whether a person has committed an antisocial act. It is harder still to determine the extent to which he or she intended the act, and why he or she committed it. And most difficult of all is divining whether a person will harm again. The lawhas increasingly turned to mental health pro...

Christopher Slobogin is at The University of Florida.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 6.3 × 9.29 × 0.79 inPublished:September 13, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195189957

ISBN - 13:9780195189957

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Table of Contents

Part I: IntroductionChapter One: The Need for NuancePart II: CulpabilityChapter Two: Diagnoses, Syndromes, and Criminal ResponsibilityChapter Three: The Case for Informed SpeculationChapter Four: Redining Probative ValueChapter Five: Beyond RelevancePart III: DangerousnessChapter Six: The Current State of the Science and the LawChapter Seven: Are There "Experts" on Dangerousness?Part IV: ConclusionChapter Eight: The Structure of Expertise

Editorial Reviews

"This extremely enlightening book is so readable and so ordered and logical that readers get answers to questions barely forming in their minds...It is highly recommended reading, even for veterans of this subject. It should be required fare for the less seasoned, for those considering entryinto the forensic area, and for those taking postgraduate courses in forensics."--Doody's