- Forensic Neuropsychological Evaluation involves the application of neuropsychological assessment methods to the evaluation of criminal or civil litigants.
Assessment of collateral sources of information, response bias, malingering, and norm-based psychological testing are essential components of the forensic clinical neuropsychological evaluation.
The examiner should be well qualified in both forensic psychology and clinical neuropsychology. The approach and batteries used should be capable of meeting legal standards.
In most states the examiner should at a minimum be licensed in psychology in order to perform psychological testing. Further training involving formal graduate level training is recommended as a standard by organizations such as Div. 40 of the APA and the National Academy of Neuropsychologists.
ABBP or ABPN Board Certification are normally recognized as high standards of proficiency. On the other hand, many individuals "Board Certified" in neuropsychology by the American Board of Forensic Examiners have qualified solely on the basis of points and an application fee, and would not meet the criteria of requiring formal Graduate School education or supervision in neuropsychology. The problem of vanity boards has prompted the Florida Board of Psychology to instute rules (2007) which provide some regulation in this regard.
Few states (Lousiana is one) have licensing laws governing neuropsychology, and regulation is subsumed by laws governing the practice of psychology and generally APA ethical standards which require psychologists to practice within the range of their competence.
In addition to consideration of injury parameters which assist in the classification of head injury, the neuropsychological evaluation should contain the following elements:
1. Detailed review of medical and developmental history
2. Review of academic history and records when available
3. Review of current medication and past psychoactive meds
4. Review of trauma, exposure to toxins, and other potential neurological events
5. Review of social and occupational adjustment
6. Examination of current stressors
7. Detailed mental status examination
8. Formal neuropsychological testing
Neuropsychological testing should be thorough and can take up to two (or sometimes three) days to complete. Multiple measures of a particular cognitive function to examine for consistency is usually indicated in forensic settings. In forensic settings formal testing for malingering or reduced effort with tests designed for this purpose is suggested. While test patters are also helpful, little research has been conducted concerning the potential error rate of utilizing a virtually unlimited number of test pattern indicators.
A thorough neuropsychological evaluation should generally provide for evaluation of the following:
1. General Cognitive abilities
2. Academic Achievement
3. Sensory Perceptual Skills
4. Motor speed, coordination, and planning
5. Attention, Concentration and mental processing speed in visual and auditory modalities
6. Comparison of right and left hand performance
7. Assessment of language functions such as fluency and naming
8. Assessment of nonverbal skills such as construction
9. Assessment of verbal and nonverbal memory including retention and learning rates
10. Assessment of executive functions and cognitive flexibility
11. Assessment of personality and emotional adjustment.
Benjamin Phalin, Ph.D. shares experience with Dr. Bordini as he received his doctoral training in clinical psychology and neuropsychology from the University of Florida, and had further training at the James A Haley VA Medical Center. They both share experience in criminal forensic settings through their graduate training experiences at North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center, a secure forensic facility which houses individuals who are incompetent to proceed or not guilty by reason of insanity. Dr. Phalin completed his neuropsychology residency training with our offices at Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida.
Dr. Phalin's doctor research involved a study of concussion effects in football players over time.
Dr. Bordini has experience in state and federal courts providing depositions and expert court testimony. With more than 18 years of licensed experience, he has provided neuropsychological evaluations for the courts, defense as well as plaintiff attorney's, the Federal Aviation Administration, Hospitals, Employers, Worker's Compensation, Vocational Administration, as well as for Disability Insurance Carriers.
His evaluations of criminal defendants has largely involved homicide cases and has involved a number of cases of multiple homicide, including a neuropsychological evaluation of Aileen Wournos at the request of the State Attorney's office. He has also testified in a number of death penalty appeal cases.
Unfortunately, in Florida, as of 2007, evaluation of criminal defendants has been greatly hampered by limits on expert fees and delays in payments to experts by the JAC system. At this time we are only accepting private cases.
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