The insanity defense represents a prominent symbol of the relationship between law and psychiatry. Despite the fact that it is infrequently raised and seldom successful, the insanity defense is the subject of intense legal and public scrutiny.
James L. Knoll IV, MD
The jaw-dropping indignity was easy to miss at a time when the O.J. Simpson murder trial was unfolding. A man named Colin Ferguson had been charged with killing 6 people and wounding another 19 after an apparently indiscriminant shooting spree aboard a Long Island railroad train.
After a formal complaint alleging malpractice is made, the discovery phase of the litigation process begins. Discovery is the process in which the parties to a lawsuit go about gathering information before trial. The rationale behind discovery is to reduce surprises at trial and to encourage settlement before trial. Methods of discovery include written interrogatories, requests for documents, and depositions of various witnesses.
Many psychiatrists feel intimidated by or frightened about courtroom testimony. However, with the proper preparation, the psychiatrist need not have a difficult experience. It is the role of an expert witness to educate the court on matters that are beyond a layperson's understanding.