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Dr. Sharp: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast. This is Dr. Jeremy Sharp. This is the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment.

Welcome back, y’all. Today’s episode is all about assessing criminal and civil competency with Dr. Emin Gharibian. You might recognize his name. He is a longtime member of the Testing Psychologist Community on Facebook, and he was gracious enough to dedicate some time to talk with me about these topics.

Just a little bit about Emin. He is a licensed psychologist in California. He got his M.A. and PsyD from the California School of Professional Psychology. He did his postdoc at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He did his doctoral internship at California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation at the California Institution for Men.

Emin currently maintains a private practice Verdugo Psychological Associates, and he at the same time has a position as a staff psychologist and medical staff member at Patton State Hospital, which is a 1500-bed, maximum security forensic psychology hospital in California with a variety of residents. He’s also appointed to the Los Angeles Juvenile Court Expert Witness Panel. He’s a member of the National Academy of Neuropsychology and The American Psychology-Law Society.

Dr. Emin has a wealth of experience to share with us. In his typical style, he breaks things down in a pretty direct and easy-to-understand way. So if you have any interest in forensic assessment, especially understanding competency and what that’s all about, this will be a good one for you.

Now, at the time of [00:02:00] this recording, I still have two spots left in my Beginner Practice and Advanced Practice Mastermind groups. Right now I am in early February. By the time this airs, it will be nearly March and hopefully, there will still be two spots left. But if you’re interested in group coaching where you’re hanging out with 5 or 6 other psychologists at your stage of practice, then I would go to thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting. You can scroll down to find information on the Beginner Practice group and the Advanced Practice group. You can also apply there to see if the group would be a good fit for you and vice versa.

All right. Onto my conversation with Dr. Emin Gharibian.

Hey, y’all, welcome back to another episode of The Testing Psychologist podcast. Glad that you’re here with us today. Like you heard in the introduction, I’m here with Dr. Emin Gharibian. Emin is going to be talking with us all about competency. We did an episode on competency with medical decision-making a few months ago, but today we’re going to be diving into criminal and civil competency and all the facets of each of those. So, I’m really excited for this conversation.

Emin, thanks for being here. 

Dr. Emin: Thank you for having me, Jeremy. I’m happy to be here. 

Dr. Sharp: I want to dive right into it. This is fascinating to me. It’s one of those areas that I don’t practice in. So, I just have a lot of questions. I’m very curious. First of all, let’s just start with why you are doing this. What led you to this particular area of assessment? 

Dr. Emin: I’ve always been into forensic assessments. I started doing forensic assessments right at, or I started working in forensic [00:04:00] psychology as part of my postdoc, and then it evolved from there.

Competency specifically is probably one of the simpler forensic assessments that you could do. So two years ago, I started to go to different conferences and learn a little bit more about it. I got really into it and then eventually I transitioned into a role in my job where pretty much full time what I do 40 hours a week is doing competency evaluations.

It’s a little bit of a different line of work that most psychologists are used to. It’s more like you meet with the person, you do your evaluation, you write the report, you send it to the court and you’re pretty much done with it at that point. The only time you’re going to ever get called for it is if a judge or DA wants to ask you questions. It fits in with my style. I like to be able to do an evaluation and turn in my report and be done with it. Plus I like the mixture of law and psychology. So it was a natural progression and fit for me. 

Dr. Sharp: Can you remember back what even led you into forensic assessment in the first place versus working with kids or autism assessment or any other niche? 

Dr. Emin: I don’t know how to explain it. It just stood out to me the most. It was the most interesting aspect of psychology for me. When I started to do it, I never got bored of it. So, I kept wanting to do more of it. Versus when I did evaluations with children or younger adolescents, it just didn’t resonate as much with me. I didn’t have as much drive behind it. Plus I like how law and psychology mixed together. You have to be a miniature lawyer while you’re doing this stuff. So, it resonated the most with me. And it was the most interesting for me. So I kept following through with it and I never got bored of it. That was the main thing for me. It never got boring for me. 

Dr. Sharp: That is a pretty telling factor. We get bored with a lot of things, I think. 

Dr. Emin:  Yeah.

Dr. Sharp: So, just the fact that it’s continued to be motivating for you is pretty important. It’s really cool. Well, it’s fascinating. I think for those of us outside the field, we think of those criminal justice shows and defense by reason of insanity and all these sorts of pop culture [00:06:00] views of assessment in the criminal and even civil world. And so to just to be able to really dive into this is pretty exciting.

Dr. Emin: Yeah. And it’s something that people think it’s more complicated than it actually is. And generally, when I explain to people, they’re like, wow, that’s not that difficult. And it really isn’t. The legal concepts behind competency are not that difficult. As far as the different forensic evaluations you could do, I would say competency is probably on the easier side. The evaluations tend to be shorter time-wise and resource-wise. So it’s a good area of evaluation. If you want to get into forensic evaluations, it’s probably one of the easier ones to get into in the beginning. 

Dr. Sharp: I heard you say that earlier that this is one of the easier forensic areas. Just for the sake of discussion, what are some of the harder forensic areas?

Dr. Emin: Insanity evaluations, I would say would be more difficult. There’s more on the line. Also, for example, in an insanity evaluation, you’re looking at how the person was at the time of the crime versus a competency evaluation where you’re looking at how they are right now in the room with you.

So you’re looking at a lot more historical information. It’s more of a chance to articulate why or why not that person was insane at the time of the crime because you have to look back into how they were six months to a year ago. That person may or may not be a reliable historian. You’re going to rely a lot on collateral information to basically arrive at your conclusions.

There’s more on the line in that sense because this person is currently going through the criminal process or about to go through the criminal process. And depending on, if they want to enter an insanity plea, it could have huge ramifications on their eventual legal outcome versus competency; they haven’t been to trial yet. The trial process has basically been in place on hold while we’re assessing for competency to determine if they should even be going to trial at this point.

So let’s say a worst-case scenario. If you were to do it improperly and this person was incompetent and they went back, their attorney could always bring up the issue of competency again and have a [00:08:00] second opinion done for it. I feel like you have a little bit more of a, I mean, you shouldn’t make mistakes anyway, but in general, if you do make a mistake, there’s more checks and balances with this process I feel like rather than with insanity-you’re pretty much the expert that’s been designated to this evaluation. So there’s more on the line with that. 

Dr. Sharp: Sure. A very naive question and going off-script immediately. That’s how things go here. Is insanity a legal term?

Dr. Emin: Yeah. Insanity is absolutely a legal term. People hear insane and they think that it’s a medical term. It’s not. It’s based off of case law. Insanity is always evaluated time of the crime. Insanity can vary depending on state to state. I’m in California, the criteria is going to be different than the criteria if someone’s in Nevada or Arizona. So, it varies from state to state.

I’m just going ro paraphrase this. For insanity, essentially, you’re looking at their mental state at the time of the crime. Generally, it’s for psychotic conditions for the most part. So for example, someone committed a crime and at the time of the crime, they didn’t know the difference between right and wrong. They couldn’t appreciate the behaviors. They didn’t understand the consequences of what they were doing. 9 times out of 10 when I’ve seen insanity cases, the person was always psychotic off their meds. So that’s basically the criteria.

It’s fairly standard across most states, but it can definitely vary from state to state. So I always encourage people, if you’re doing legal evaluations, even for this podcast, just taking into consideration that I’m talking about California rules, it might be very different for your state or it might be the same. So definitely do your due diligence when you’re looking at different legal criteria wherever you’re doing your evaluation.

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. Yeah, that’s always an important disclaimer to put out there. Things vary from state to state. And this is obviously not clinical advice or legal advice or anything like that. I appreciate you pointing that out. And thanks for briefly defining insanity.[00:10:00] Like I said, this is a huge area that I don’t know a ton about.

Well, let’s talk about the competency side. Right off the bat, I’m struck by the difference there that when we were preparing for the podcast, that competency is really just something that is judged in the moment or on the day of trial, I suppose, or day of assessment. I’m not sure what you said. 

Dr. Emin: Yeah, basically the day of the assessment, which it could be a week before your trial. It could be two months before a trial. So it’s more of a, someone could be competent one day and be incompetent a week later, depending on what’s going on. That often happens with people that are taking medications for severe mental illness. They could stop taking their antipsychotics and go from being competent one week, and then two weeks later, they’re incompetent. So it could change depending on what’s going on. 

Dr. Sharp: Right, which is fascinating. I mean, that seems really challenging, but in a way, maybe not so much, you’re just looking at that moment in time and you don’t really have to worry about the past, which is new for me. 

Dr. Emin: Yeah. 

Dr. Sharp: So let’s dive into criminal competency first. Can you just do a broad 10,000-foot view of, when you’re talking about criminal competency, what does that entail? 

Dr. Emin: The criteria for competency is actually set in case law. There was a Supreme court case called Dusky v. United States. It was from 1960. It basically said that an incompetent person can’t be tried. It would be unfair to them if they were tried because they would not be able to do two of the things that are included in the prongs for competency.

In California, there is PC 1367 that sets the criteria for competency. And basically, in a nutshell, it says, there’s two prongs to it. The first prong is, does this person have a factual and rational understanding of the criminal proceedings? For example, do they know what the plea options are? Do they know [00:12:00] what the benefits for each plea option are? Can they weigh the evidence in their case? Can they make a rational decision regarding their case?

The second prong is, can they rationally work in the defense of their case with their attorney? The whole idea behind it is that obviously as a defendant unless you decide to defend yourself, you’re not going to be making too many legal decisions. Basically, your attorney is going to be making decisions for you. So the whole idea is, are you with it enough or put together enough that you could sit there and take advice from your attorney and listen to the feedback and opinions of your attorney during the criminal process?

So those are the two prongs. Throughout the interview, you’ll hear me talk about prong 1 and prong 2. Even when we write reports, we talk about prong 1 and prong 2. So you’re basically looking at those two prongs and that makes up competency. 

Dr. Sharp: I see. So in the first one, when you were talking about a defendant being able to understand the process, this is again, a very naive question, but is that speaking to their prior knowledge of each of those elements or their ability to learn after you teach them? Does that make sense?

I was looking at the criteria. I know the difference between a no-contest plea and a guilty plea or a guilty or whatever. So is that assessing their capacity to learn it if you teach them or what?

Dr. Emin: Yeah, absolutely. If you went out into society and randomly sample people and ask them, hey, what does no contest mean? Probably 9 out of 10 people are not going to be able to tell you. It doesn’t mean that they’re incompetent. It means that basically you just don’t know it.

So part of the process is, if I tell you about what no contest means, let’s say you didn’t know what it means and I were to educate you on it, will you be able to understand that? Can you repeat back that definition to me and that demonstrate you understand; not just parrot it back and say, well, this is the definition. So if you’re able to explain it, understand what it means, what’s the benefit of using this, what’s the drawback for using this? Then that’s fine. You’re competent. When I do evaluations, I assess for that to see if the person benefits from me teaching that information.

And one thing I forgot to mention, I’m sorry, before we go a little bit in-depth, in order to be incompetent to stand trial, it has to be due to a mental illness. So in order for prong 1 and prong 2 to apply, it has to be due to a mental disorder or a developmental disability.

So, someone can be incompetent to stand trial if they have a personality disorder, for example, that’s preventing them from becoming incompetent. If someone has a borderline personality disorder, they can’t work with their attorney, that doesn’t fall into one of the conditions for incompetency. And in California specifically, is literally written into the statute that says, they could be incompetent only if it’s due to a mental disorder or a developmental disability, for example, intellectual disability is a common one. 

Dr. Sharp: Okay. 

Dr. Emin: Other than that… 

Dr. Sharp: Well, I was going to ask, what else is excluded from mental disability? I was thinking about just plain old abstinence. They don’t want to work with their attorney or whatever might be. 

Dr. Emin: That wouldn’t count. That gets into more the challenging side of forensic work. And that’s a little bit different than the clinical work. You’re going to run into people that are going to lie to you and try to feign conditions to get out of the criminal process.

So, you have to look at the first thing. Is there even a mental health condition? At least 99% of the time, it’s pretty obvious that there is or isn’t. I think I would say 95% of my caseload right now are people with schizophrenia. It’s pretty obvious if someone has psychosis. You could pick it up just through the observations of having evaluated hundreds of people with psychosis.

So before you even get into prong 1 and prong 2, you have to realize, is there even a mental health condition here, because if someone has, for example, anti-social personality disorder or borderline personality disorder, [00:16:00] they might not work with their attorney, but it’s not because of the criteria under competency. It is because of the personality disorder, which isn’t covered under the statute of competency of what conditions qualify for it.

I’ve seen reports where people often make that mistake and they will say the person is incompetent and you learn that their “incompetency” is due to just them being oppositional and not wanting the care to work with their attorney. So you have to be able to differentiate the two, like, is this person capable of it is different than are they willing to. So if they’re capable but they’re unwilling, that’s totally something different rather than they’re willing but incapable. So you have to be able to make a good distinction.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. And so when you talk about these two prongs again, the first one being the people, are they able to understand the nature of these proceedings, second one being, are they able to assist their attorney and be a part of their defense? What if they meet the first one, but not the second one? Does it have to be both? How does that work?

Dr. Emin: It has to be both. If they meet one and not the other one they’re incompetent. They have to be able to meet both prongs and if they’re not, then that’s it.

That’s the one nice thing about legal evaluations is the criteria usually spelled out very specifically for you. There’s no ambiguity in what criteria needs to be met. So if either one of those are not met, then they’re incompetent to stand trial. 

Dr. Sharp: I got you. That sounds good. Let’s see. So you go through this process. It might be helpful to talk about the overall process a little bit. For one, how are these individuals coming to you? How do you get these referrals first of all? 

Dr. Emin: It could vary depending on different circumstances. In my case, I work at Patton State Hospital, the largest forensic hospital in the country, and I’m on a female competency unit. So the way that people are getting to me is they’ve already been evaluated by a [00:18:00] court-appointed evaluator. The court-appointed evaluator has determined that they’re incompetent for whatever reason, and then they basically sit around and wait for a bed to open.

They come to our hospital and then we reevaluate them. In some cases, depending if they got stabilized on medications in county jail, sometimes they’re able to go back right away because there’s sometimes a gap between their initial evaluation by the time they come to us. It might be 3 to 4 months.

In some cases, they’ll come to us and they’re not competent. So then that’s when the psychiatrist will prescribe medication. I’ll do my initial evaluation to determine what their baseline is, and then the rehab therapist and the social workers generally will work with them to try to teach them legal material. And then the cycle repeats over and over again until they get to a point that they’re competent.

Most people end up generally being competent between 60 and 90 days. It is fairly quick process. It’s quick turnaround. But sometimes we’ll have people that will be here for a while. And sometimes we have people that will never become competent because how severe their mental illness or developmental disability is. They just can’t learn the material or they can’t learn to work with their attorney.

Dr. Sharp: I see. So your goal, maybe not your goal, but everyone’s goal is to get them to a place of competency?

Dr. Emin: Yeah. And then basically once they become competent, once you write their new report, they go back to county jail. And at that point, they wait for their criminal process to continue. Some cases are pretty short and brief. They’ll be back to the county jail. They may be in there for a month or two, or might maybe the charges get dropped and I get out back out.

In some cases, the person might have a serious charge, like murder or attempted murder, where they’re going to be in the county jail for the next 2-3 years. And any time in those 2-3 years that they stop taking their medication for whatever reason, and they become incompetent again, they could always come back to us. I’ve had two cases where someone went back and stopped taking their medication or decompensated and they came right back.

So at any time, the defense attorney, it is usually the defense attorney or a judge, could raise the issue of competency and say, Hey, I [00:20:00] don’t believe that my client is competent right now. I want another evaluation. Amd then the whole process repeats all over again.

Dr. Sharp: I got you. I’m not sure how to ask this question exactly, but there’s something in here about why repeatedly evaluate someone versus just evaluate them on the date before their trial or a week before their trial or something and just have it be done?

Dr. Emin: The easy answer is logistics and money. In a practical sense, someone should be evaluated… Once they’re evaluated before they come to us, maybe someone should talk to them again because sometimes they’ll stay in county jail for 3-4 months before they come to us because a bed needs to open up.

So yeah, in practical terms, someone should reevaluate them those 3-4 months because maybe they started taking their medication, they stabilize and they’ve been to the criminal justice system before, so they know the court material. So that would be the right way of doing things or the proper way of doing these, but unfortunately, just due to logistics and financial issues and just how the criminal justice system operates, it’s very inefficient sometimes. So they end up coming to us and then being bounced back around. So it’s not the quickest process or the most efficient process.

So the answer to your question is because of just limitations in how the system is designed and the resources that are available. 

Dr. Sharp: Okay. That’s fair. I can accept that answer. I just want to make sure I’m not missing something here. So then what does the evaluation process actually look like? 

Dr. Emin: To evaluate prongs 1 and 2, I’ll go through each one and explain how I do it. For prong 1, the things that I look at is: Do you know your charges- how much time you’re facing? Do you know the different plea options that you can answer in court? In California, we have four: we have guilty, not guilty, no contest, and not guilty by reason of insanity. And the most important part is not being able to just identify, but knowing the consequences.

[00:22:00] For example, if you were to plead guilty or no contest, as far as the court is concerned, they’re the same thing. You’re basically waving your right to a trial. You’re waving your right to be able to call witnesses. You’re waving your right to be able to introduce evidence. So people need to understand that they’re giving up that right. And as long as they understand it, they’re okay with it, that’s fine. It’s totally up to them what they want to do.

On the other side, some people want to plead guilty. And generally for the most part, they need to understand what they’re giving up by pleading guilty. Like if you plead guilty, you’re same thing as no context, you’re giving up some rights.

If you want to plead, for example, not guilty, you have to understand what that means, and what the next process would be. So for example, you have to know that after I plead not guilty, you have to go to a trial. And if there’s a trial going on, I have to sit there and basically listen to people presenting information. Maybe my attorney will want me to testify. You have to understand by pleading not guilty and taking your case to trial, you might not be afforded a plea bargain.

For example, in California, generally, people will get offered a plea bargain if they plead guilty or no contest. So the person needs to understand what a plea bargain is. You need to understand that if I… For the listeners, basically, a plea bargain is you’re agreeing to plead guilty or no contest to the charges in exchange for lesser time or probation or time served. You’re basically negotiating with a district attorney. And in some cases, a plea bargain is probably the best bet for someone if there’s an overwhelming amount of evidence against their case.

People need to understand pretty much the decision they’re making and why they’re making it. And the most important part isn’t the factual understanding. It’s really the rational understanding. A lot of people know the facts behind the court process. They could define all four of these pleas and what each of them means, but sometimes people struggle with applying it to their case and rationally weighing the evidence and saying, okay, which one’s better for me.

So typically what I’ll do with people is if they want ot plead, for example, no contest, I’ll ask them Hey, why do you want to plead no contest? I’ll have them explain their thought process to me. It’s a little subjective on my part, but I see if it’s [00:24:00] rational.

For example, someone might say, Hey, I want to plead no contest because there’s video evidence of me doing X, Y, and Z crime. There’s these three witnesses that saw me do it. If I take this to case to trial, I’m facing five years, but if I take this plea bargain, I’ll get a year and a half. It’s a better option for me. I still do jail time, but it’s better for me.

That’s an example of someone rationally weighing their options. And that makes sense. They’re still serving time in jail, but if they take it to trial and they lose, they might get five years versus if they take a plea bargain, they might get it a year and a half in probation. So that’s an example of someone being able to rationally weigh those options.

An irrational decision would be, I’ll give an example of a case I had where the person wanted to plead not guilty and this person had delusions, but they wanted to plead not guilty. The reason for not pleading guilty was because they were saying that the government was fabricating information, there’s a conspiracy against them, that they’re being unfairly targeted by the police department, and all sorts of stuff.

The further I talked to them, it was clear that this was not factually or rationally based. This was a clear-cut delusion. In this case, there were multiple witnesses. They had photographs of the injuries. People saw this incident happen. So obviously this person is not rationally weighing these options and their decision to plead not guilty is not one that’s rational. It doesn’t make sense that you would decide to plead that for that reason.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. Can I ask a question real quick?

Dr. Emin: Yeah.

Dr. Sharp: As you describe these, it makes me wonder:

1) How much access to evidence do you have?

2)Do you know how much access the client has to evidence in their case? 

Dr. Emin: We have access to the police report so I could read the police report and the witness statements and see what exactly happened.

So when someone tells me, there was no witness, this didn’t happen, this person’s lying, and I literally read the police report and I see there were five witnesses that saw you came with this crime, it’s up to me to figure out, is this part of the delusion that this person believes this thing or is just, some people don’t believe that this happened. They just are [00:26:00] vehemently denying it. And it’s just part of their anti-social oppositional traits where they just will not accept what happened.

So it’s a delicate balancing act to figure out, is their interpretation of this information based on reality or is it a delusional process or whatever psychotic process that’s distorting their understanding of that information? And then they have… We’ll present the police reports to them. We like, Hey, this is what the police said. This is what the witnesses said. And then sometimes I look at their reaction and how they articulate and explain information.

Sometimes in their head, they’re like, wow, I didn’t, or they’ll say out loud, like, well, I didn’t know about all this evidence against me. That shows me that they’re making a more rational decision. Other times I’ll just double down on the delusion and be like, no, it’s a conspiracy. They’re trying to frame me. Even though the victim was a random person, this person knows me and they’re out to get me. They’re against me. 

So it gets a little bit more challenging in some cases, but to answer your question, we have access to the police reports and then we’ll share that information with the client. It’s no secret to them. They have a right to see what evidence they have against them. They have a right to see what witnesses and the police are saying that they did.

Dr. Sharp: I see. It sounds like in evaluating prong 1, it’s a lot of interviewing. It’s talking with the client. 

Dr. Emin: Well, before you meet with the person, or at least when I meet with the person, I always review all the legal records. I review the original court evaluation if there was one just to understand the background information. I don’t go in there completely blind.

To answer your question, it’s pretty much an interview; a very in-depth interview. It’s one of those things where once you do several hundred of them, it becomes pretty apparent. You see the same patterns come up over and over again, and you learn how a competent person presents versus how an incompetent person presents. The main thing I always tell people, it’s not about the decisions that they make. They can make whatever decisions that they want as long as it’s rational; as long as they weighed all their [00:28:00] options.

I’ll give you an example. I had a case where this person was charged with murder. They had killed a person. There was a lot of evidence against them and they wanted to plead guilty. The attorneys were trying to make the argument that this person is incompetent because their decision to plead guilty doesn’t make sense.

While I’m talking with the person, it turns out that they have a full rational understanding of what’s going on. They’re like, there’s all this evidence against me. I confess to it. There’s no point in me pleading not guilty. I’m just going to sit in county jail for the next, 3, 4, 5 years while this intense trial goes on. I’ve been in prison my entire life. I want to plead guilty and try to get a deal as best as I can and put this behind me.

To an outsider, that might look like, well, why would somebody ever want to plead guilty? But when you’re evaluating somebody, you’re looking at it very in-depth and looking at all these different factors to determine, does that make sense? Is it rational? And in that case, that person’s decision, although was not maybe in their best interest per the attorney, it was still rational because they weighed all their options before arriving to that conclusion.

All that’s gathered just through the interview process. Sometimes the interviews might take only five minutes because the person is so flowly psychotic that you can’t get any information out of them. And other times the interview might take an hour because you’re just trying to really, like in a murder case, I go really in-depth into each and everything because there’s a lot on the line for that person.

Dr. Sharp: Absolutely. Now you mentioned in our discussions before recording, that, how would I phrase it, you don’t delve into history not relevant to the case a whole lot. Can you talk about that a little bit?

Dr. Emin: Yeah. It depends on the evaluator. I’ll talk about it in our reports and how we do it. We don’t really go too much into the history for our reports at Patton. The main reason for that is because it’s not really important. That’s a quick [00:30:00] way to explain it because you’re trying to tell the court how is this person right now? If they’re not competent, why they’re incompetent, and basically what we’re going to do to try to help them out.

So where they went to school, where they grew up, what their educational background is, that’s really irrelevant as far as the court is concerned. I might ask those questions anyway, or I do ask those questions because I want have a context of a baseline understanding of what’s going on. For example, I’ll ask someone is education history because I want to know, does this person have a learning disability? Were they in special education? Maybe there’s some cognitive stuff going on.

So for us, it’s pertinent for the purposes of our intake process to find out what treatment is appropriate and all those things, but the court doesn’t care about that. The court wants to know, is this person incompetent. If they’re not, why? And pretty much what’s your timeline like to help this person out? So as far as the court ones are concerned, it’s not really important putting that information to the report. I still gather it for other purposes, but I don’t really include that.

Sometimes when I’ve done private evaluations for attorneys, I will include that because the attorney wants to know. Depending on the purpose of the evaluation, the attorney might ask, put this background information in the report for me because I just want to know where this person came from and what’s going on.

But for the strict court-appointed evaluations, the really good forensic reports that I’ve seen, and I review hundreds and hundreds of these, the good ones don’t include that much background information. It’s not really pertinent. They really focus on the current presentation and the current mental status, and then they directly address prongs 1 and 2 in the report.

Dr. Sharp: I see. So in these evals, are you doing any other measures? Are you doing cognitive? Are you doing personality? Is there any standardized assessment aside from the interview? 

Dr. Emin: Well, it depends. For example, for a cognitive issue, let’s say I suspect someone has an intellectual disability or some cognitive things going on, I’ll give a WAIS or maybe a [00:32:00] RBANS, some sort of neurological screener. I’ll give those measures but then in the report, I don’t write it the same way how people write in a clinical report. Judges and attorneys don’t care what a WAIS is. They just want to know, this person, what’s their cognitive functioning like?

So I’ll write in the report, this person has an intellectual disability and it’s impacting X, Y, and Z, but I won’t talk about the WAIS or whatever cognitive tests I gave because the judges honestly don’t care. It’s sad to say that, but it’s not important to them.

They want to know what the ultimate legal issue is, and they want to hear about it in a very short and brief way because they’re not psychologists. They don’t understand the nuances of psychological testing. It’s really not their job to know that. Their job is to basically make decisions based off the information that we provide them. And it’s important that in forensics, you provide that information in the most concise and complete way.

So I’ll do the evaluation. I’ll give WAIS and maybe some cognitive measures if I need to, but I won’t really directly talk about what tests are and I won’t mention direct test results in the report like how you typically see in the clinical report. 

Dr. Sharp: Right. Now, this is a very granular question, but do you put the scores in an appendix in the report or is it just missing?

Dr. Emin: They’re there. I don’t even put it in the… For the Patton ones, we don’t even put in there. I mean, we’ll write a separate note in our own files where we have the scores and all that stuff’s documented. So it’s not that we just throw that information away. That’s still recorded somewhere. Once it goes to the court, my report directly addresses 1 one and 2.

For example, let’s say an hour to give some, let’s say the person that has some sort of disability or cognitive impairment due to chronic substance use, and I gave a neurological neuropsychological screen measure and a WAIS, for example, I’ll write it in the prong 1 section.

For example, I’ll say this person has difficulty learning the four please due to some cognitive deficits due to problems with working [00:34:00] memory and some other things, abstraction, whatever, what have you. But I won’t say what tests I gave specifically. I’ll just say, based on the measure of cognitive functioning that I administered, this is the problem that I see. Because ultimately I’m able to answer that question for the attorney and for the judge, but I take out the technical jargon that’s included in the report.

The only time I’ll include it though is when I do private evaluations for attorneys. I will include an appendix with the scores, but that’s a little bit different. That one is directly going to an attorney. They want to know everything. They might use that as a mitigating factor for their case. They could use that information for other things.

But for the ones that are court-ordered, for the most part, it’s all about being very concise and rendering your opinion in the least amount of words possible because, think about it from this perspective, these judges and these attorneys have dozens and dozens of reports to review. They don’t have time to go through your 10-page report. So you got to make it short and sweet and just answer the question in a very concise way. And they appreciate that too. If a report’s short and sweet and you are completely answering all their questions, they’re very appreciative of that. 

Dr. Sharp: I’m sure. Maybe I could draw a parallel to physicians in the clinical world. They just want to know what’s going on and maybe why, but they know what to do. That’s the main thing. 

Dr. Emin: Yeah. 

Dr. Sharp: I know we’ve talked a lot in the Facebook group and just the general testing world about briefer reports and how we’re moving in that direction. Brief, readable, simple, straightforward reports.

Dr. Emin: Yes. They’re brief reports but they’re still hitting all the important points. It’s just really about learning to filter out the noise and figuring out, what’s important and what’s not. 

Dr. Sharp: So just to revisit, in your reports, let’s again, get very detailed here. How long are your reports? What’s the structure look like? And what do you say in them?

Dr. Emin: I’ll talk about the reports that we do at Patton because those are more court-based reports. Those [00:36:00] are probably the ideal model of how you should be writing a forensic report. So the reports are pretty short. For a basic commentary report, that might be three pages. The longer ones will be the ones where the person is malingering or exaggerating their symptoms. And the only reason they’re longer is because I just have to explain stuff a lot more in-depth because if…

Dr. Sharp: Can I jump in there?

Dr. Emin: Yeah.

Dr. Sharp: When you say malingering or exaggerating, how does that come up in an interview scenario where you’re not formally assessing effort?

Dr. Emin: There are ways for us to assess effort in competency. I can touch on that right now because it helps explain the question.

Generally, I look at how that person is presenting. For example, before I meet with the person at that point, the nursing staff and the psychological tech have already told me like, Hey, we think this person’s exaggerating. And they’ll usually explain why. Like when we’re watching them, they act totally bizarre and strange. When I’ve seen them just interacting with, for example, with patients only, they’re not being watched, they act totally different. When they want something, they’re totally with it. When we ask them for something, they act like they don’t even understand what we were telling them.

So at that point, for the most part, before I even meet with them, someone’s already noticed it. Our staff is very good about noticing those kind of nuances in people’s behaviors. They’re just very experienced in doing that.  But the issue has already been addressed to me at a certain point. So I’m already going in there knowing something might be up.

So in those cases, typically the way that people will exaggerate is they just don’t answer questions. It’s not super sophisticated. You’ll ask them what not guilty or guilty means, and they be like, well, I don’t know. Which one do you want to use? I’m not sure. I can’t figure it out. So they try to play dumb and just avoid answering questions. So this is where the experience part comes in. When you do more of them, you learn how to get around that. And the way that typically I’ll do is I won’t ask direct questions. I’ll just talk to them about the case.

For example, I’ll ask them, Hey, how did you end up here and just very open-ended questions where they can’t really answer yes or no [00:38:00] to it. What happened when you got arrested? They’ll talk about it. Sometimes they’ll say, I don’t know. The really stubborn ones was just say, I don’t know to everything.

So, you’re generally looking at how they respond to stuff. Sometimes I’ll look at their history. So for example, if you’ve been arrested 50 times and you don’t know what a judge does or what an attorney does, that’s not the case. Just through rote semantic rehearsal and memory, you should know what a public defender does at this point, just because of osmosis, and you’ve been in the process many times. 

So I look at people’s history too. Like if you’ve been in the criminal justice system for many years and you’ve gone to trials a bunch of times, you should know these things.

Dr. Sharp: That makes sense.

Dr. Emin: The most common thing I’ve seen probably is usually a response with, I don’t know, I’m not sure, I don’t remember. And that’s usually a pretty dead giveaway that someone’s exaggerating or feigning their incompetence because they’ll do all these things related to the court material they don’t know, but in everyday life on the unit, they’re perfectly fine. They’re functioning okay. They can take care of their ADLs. They’re able to communicate with staff. They’re on their phone talking to their families. They’re doing all these things that don’t coincide with that presentation with me. So there isn’t consistency.

Dr. Sharp: I see. That makes sense.

Dr. Emin: There’s a measure called the ILK. It’s called The Inventory of Legal Knowledge. It’s basically a two-factor force choice test. Imagine the TOMM but for legal material. So it will go through and ask, oh, sorry. I’ll go and ask legal material to them. it’ll be questions that are yes or no. So it’ll be, does your attorney help you, for example, I don’t know the exact questions off the top of my head, but they’ll say yes or no. And then if they get it wrong, you correct them. If they don’t get it and if they get it right, they move on.

The test will go through 60 questions. The second half of the test is similar to the first half of the test, except the questions are set in a different way, but the core information is still the [00:40:00] same. So you’re just seeing how many they get right and wrong. And you’re providing them with feedback to it just like how you do with the TOMM.

So based off of that, you could look at the statistical probability of them getting that response. So, if I give this measure to you and for example, at the end of it, out of 60 questions, you get 25 of them right, you’re just basically guessing at that point. You’re not even trying. So you’re able to see it just like with the TOMM how much effort they’re putting into it and go from there.

That’s how you evaluate the effort aspect of competency is through tools like that. But a lot of it, again comes down to really interviewing and just being able to ask the right questions. And that goes beyond the scope of this podcast. It is a lot more in-depth. But in general, it is very doable.

My experience with malingering, I work on a female unit, and I would say that the females generally are more cooperative and the amount of malingers I’ve had to deal with over the past year have probably have been like 5. The men tend to exaggerate symptoms that are more oppositional.

Dr. Sharp: I see. That’s fascinating.

Dr. Emin: But it does come up. If you’re working with forensics, at some point, you’re going to have to deal with people exaggerating something. 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. That’s a whole can of worms. Like you said, that could be a whole podcast in and out of itself, but it’s nice to at least touch on that. I’m just trying to get clearer on the process and what kind of information goes in these reports. 

Dr. Emin: So the part that goes in the reports, basically it’s almost written like a legal brief, you’re just trying to answer questions. So my reports will generally be, so and so was referred to us from X, Y, and Z location. This is the crime they committed. Here’s their diagnosis. Here’s the medications that they’re on. If they need to be on involuntary medications, at least for us in Patton, we have a section where we address why they need to be on involuntary medication. You as an evaluator in the community are not really going to have to worry about that.

And then we [00:42:00] jump right into why they were found incompetent. So I’ll review the original report and say what the original evaluator saw and why they reached this conclusion. And then the report jumps into how were they when they first got admitted to our admission suite. So somebody else saw them, this is what they observed, and then my interview of how they were when they were with me.

And that’s just basically a detailed mental status examination. You’re looking at any signs of psychosis, any cognitive problems that might be going on, any oppositional tendencies you’ve noticed. Basically, you’re just observing or documenting what you’re observing in their behaviors. And then it jumps right into the competencies.

So in my reports, I make it very clear. I put the definition of what competency is exactly straight from the legal code. And then I put prong 1; does the defendant have a ability to… Do they have a rational and factual understanding of the criminal proceedings? And I’ll go through and I’ll say yes, no and explain why. Prong 2, can they work with their attorney during the conduct by the defense in a rational manner? Yes, no explain why.

And then at the end, write a conclusion. This person’s incompetent based on these reasons. I recommend that they be remediated through compensated restoration. And then depending on what the major of the report is, you could provide some recommendations if needed. Sometimes you don’t have to do any recommendations. You just write that they’re incompetent and then say, thank you for the referral. That’s it. It’s very cut and dry. It’s very simple and straightforward. You should not be writing 10 pages on these things. That’s way too long for competency. 

For the attorney side, when I’ve done private evaluations, I’ll include a relevant history. I want to include a super crazy or thorough history, but it’s really hitting the highlights: where they grew up, who they grew up with, any history of developmental disabilities or conditions, any history of like a special education that might impact the cognitive performance, any relevant psychiatric history you could include, if they’ve had seen a psychiatrist, if they have prior diagnoses, if they’ve been through competency [00:44:00] before, any pertinent medical problems that really stand out that can impact, for example, cognitive abilities. It’s really just relevant, brief history.

The way that I look at it is like, is this information going to help an attorney or a judge better understand what’s going on with this person? And if they answer to that questions, no, then you should take it out. That’s a good way to do that. At least that’s the way I look at it. Different people have different styles, but my style is if it’s important, I leave it in. If it’s not going to help the attorney or to judge make a better decision or to arrive at a conclusion, then I’m going to take it out.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. Sounds like a reasonable guideline. I know that you do most of your evaluations through the hospital, but you do some in the community as well. In terms of the billing piece, how’s that handled in competency evaluations like this? 

Dr. Emin: Through the hospital, obviously, it’s done internally through their accounting system. They have their own system that I don’t even understand how the billing works for that. I just do the evaluation and that’s it.

On the private side, it can be different for everyone. At least for me, I’m on the expert witness panel for LA County. So basically I’m on a list. I get placed on a list. Attorneys will look through the list and decide, I want this person evaluated and they can request an independent evaluation. They submit a court order or they submit a request to the county and the county will decide, oh, sorry, the county, you submitted a request to the county. The county says, okay, you’ve been appointed. And then each county has their own set rate. It could depend on where you live. Some counties have great rates, some counties have terrible rates. So basically the county ends up paying you in those cases.

Those are the attorney evaluations where the attorney wants an evaluation done. And this is a private defense attorney or a court-appointed defense attorney that maybe wants an evaluation. Sometimes a judge could raise an issue. I’m on a different panel where these are instances where the judge is raising the issue of incompetencies. Then there’s a revolving list of people that basically will get appointed. [00:46:00] You do one and then 5 other people might do one and then the turn comes back to you again.

And again, same exact process. There’s usually a set fee, depending on what county you’re working in that says, you’ll be paid, I don’t know, $500 for this evaluation, $1000 for this evaluation or whatever it might be. And then you get paid straight through the county.

Dr. Sharp: I see.

Dr. Emin: A 3rd possibility is a completely independent attorney contacts you, in which case you’re able to bill obviously whatever your hourly rate is, that’s not through the county. But for the most part, at least at this point in my career, my experience has been mostly through the county system and through the hospital system. But the people that I know that have been doing this a little bit longer than I have, that have just a bigger referral base, they absolutely will have private attorneys contact them and say, I want an evaluation done. And then you basically just charge them whatever your hourly rate is to do an evaluation. 

Dr. Sharp: Okay. This is great. I feel like this is a great overview of criminal competency. There are a lot of surprises in there. I’m surprised that it’s so brief and the way you describe it, it does sound very cut and dry. I’m sure that there are a lot of nuances once you get into it. I wonder if I’m the only one, I would assume not, that the forensic world feels like this black box that just feels hard and scary, and the way you describe it makes it sound a little more down to earth. 

Dr. Emin: It seems hard. It’s not as challenging. It’s not easy to work at times. I’m talking about ideal cases where the person is cooperative and you could easily do an evaluation. I’ve had cases where the person has just been so difficult to work with. They’re playing all sorts of games and stuff and you have to finesse your way through the evaluation. In some ways, you got to play the game with them and it could be a pain to do it.

So, it’s not as simple as people think it is. The simple part I tell people is, you have some guidelines as to how you’re operating. Any of these legal evaluations you do, there’s some sort of standard that you’re expected to follow, whatever it might be. Whether it be for competency, whether it be for insanity, whether it be for worker’s compensation, there’s always a law that you’re [00:48:00] basically using as your guide to understand what really needs to go into this evaluation.

So in that sense, I think people get a little bit overly freaked out about what legal evaluations are, but if you want to learn about the law aspect of it, which you have to, they’re very doable. It’s definitely something that you could learn by going to conferences and workshops and picking up on that information.

Dr. Sharp: I got you. So I did want to talk a little bit about the civil side too before we totally run out of time. It sounds like, again from just our chats ahead of time, that once you get the criminal part down, then civil is a little easier or there’s a lot of overlap, at least. 

Dr. Emin: Yeah, there’s a lot of… I wouldn’t say it’s easier. It presents with its own set of challenges. But at the end of the day, competency is like a broader term and you break it down civilly and criminally a little bit differently. So on the civil side, it falls into different categories. I think you mentioned that you did a podcast on medical decision-making. That’s an aspect of civil competency that falls under the broader umbrella of what civil competency is.

There’s three main categories that I’ve run into, and this is based on the workshops that I’ve gone to. There is basically testamentary capacity, which is a fancy way of saying, is someone competent to execute a will; there’s contractual capacity, which is basically can someone enter into a legal contract; and the last one, like you guys have in your previous podcast, it’s medical decision capacity, basically can someone make informed consent and treatment decision making? So those are the three main ones.

Again, I’ll talk about it with California specifically. For testamentary capacity, basically, it’s their ability to execute a will. This is straight from the California Probate Code. Again, this is another thing where the code sets what the criteria are. So depending on where you’re stated, testamentary capacity [00:50:00] can be very different than what I’m about to say right now. This is strictly for California.

At California, there’s a Probate Code section 6100.5 that basically says that an individual is not mentally competent to make a will if at the time of making the will, either of these are true: They didn’t understand the nature of the testamentary act- basically the purpose of the will. They didn’t understand and recollect the nature and situation of their property. So basically they have to understand what property do I have to give away. And then they have to understand lastly, the impact that this will have on their living descendants. So basically who’s going to be impacted by the will. So you pretty much need to know what a will is, what property you’re going to give away, and who is it going to impact?

The criteria for testamentary capacity as far as capacity goes is like much lower.

Dr. Sharp: How do you mean?

Dr. Emin: Lower in the sense that it’s very easy to not have testamentary capacity compared to criminal. It’s a little bit more specific. This one’s pretty broad. I mean, not knowing the will, not understanding the property you have to give away, not understanding what relatives will be impacted by it. Those are the three main areas. If either of those are not true, then that person’s not competent to execute the will.

It’s a more challenging evaluation because most of the time in a testamentary capacity, the person is deceased. So this is someone that passed away and now their will is being challenged by the family. Their family will generally bring up an issue and say, Hey, we believe this person when they made the will, generally, as you do to dementia for the most part, they didn’t know what they were doing. They didn’t understand what decisions they’re making. They didn’t understand who it’s going to impact. And they basically made a poor decision because of that.

So these are usually done after the fact. And it’s more challenging obviously, because the person is deceased. So you have to go through essentially record review and find out how they were presenting at the time when they [00:52:00] executed that will.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. Can you just talk a little bit about how you do that? I mean, what records do you look at, and how do you start to construct this person’s functioning when they’re….? 

Dr. Emin: Yeah. This is what makes it difficult. So at the end of the day for an evaluation like this, ultimately, a judge will decide whether or not they felt like the person was competent at the time when they made that will, but generally what they would look at is, let’s say they made their will a year ago, you go back to medical records at that time. Hopefully, if they were seeing a medical doctor, you’ll get some information about how they were presenting. You could talk to neighbors and family members.

For example, a neighbor might say, Hey, for the past six months, this person was totally confused and disoriented. They would get lost often. They’re rambling about nonsense most of the time. They were barely taking care of themselves. So it coincides with around the time period that they executed that will. Maybe you could make that judgment like, this person probably was not competent because if they were so disoriented and confused, they constantly got lost, they couldn’t take care of themselves, it would be more difficult for them to make a rational decision regarding who should get their property and why sure. Who the will will impact. It’s a more difficult evaluation to do because honestly, you’re limited with the information that you have.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. I wonder if I could ask a really, again detailed question. Do you get releases of information to speak with these other parties? I’m just thinking how wide do you cast this net and how do you get contact information for neighbors and things like that? Maybe I’m totally looking at this wrong.

Dr. Emin: I’ll be honest. I haven’t done ones where the person’s been deceased. I based this information off of the different workshops and stuff that I’ve been to. But in those cases, basically, an attorney general retains you. So you could talk to an attorney figure out who could I talk to?

Usually, for these instances [00:54:00] based off the examples that I’ve seen and the workshops that I’ve been to, these are large estates. These are multimillion-dollar estates that are on the line. So there’s a lot of money on the line. So a lot of resources are being spent into figuring out how this person was when they made that will. This is not generally going to be for a small estate over $2000. This is going to be usually for a substantial amount of money that is potentially on the line that can impact the family pretty heavily.

As far as the amount of resources being spent, I think it really depends on how much money is on the line and how much the family wants to go ahead and push it and fight it. So, the amount of time you spend on it really depends on just how much the attorney and the family wants to go out and spend for your time. And you can cast as wide as you want. You could go and start interviewing neighbors and family members and doctors. Maybe they saw a neuropsychologist or a psychologist in the past X amount of months or around the time they’re writing their will. So you’re going to review all these records and see the person’s functioning. Essentially, you’re doing almost like an autopsy of their cognitive and psychological functioning where you’re able to report, this is how the person was over the past X amount of months.

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, that’s the word that came to mind for me too. It’s just this postmortem investigation.  

Dr. Emin: Yeah, it’s definitely more challenging when the person is deceased. I personally haven’t had to deal with that. So I’m explaining to you how ideally I would do it. In one or two cases that I’ve done so far, the person was alive. So it was a little bit different. But in those cases, it is a little bit easier. You essentially want know…

Again, it comes down to really an interview. You really want to know: Do they understand how much property and money that they have and what’s in their estate? Do they understand what the will is and how it’s going to help or hurt whoever they’re going to give it to? And basically, do they understand how is it going to impact their family? It’s a pretty low threshold, honestly. It’s very easy for someone.

Someone could have dementia and still be competent to write a will because the [00:56:00] criteria is so low. The bar that you have to cross is not that high. Versus if you look at the criminal side for competency or even insanity, some other forensic evaluations, the bar is substantially higher. For testamentary capacity, it’s entirely possible that someone has dementia or psychosis and can still meet those three criteria and still be able to execute a will.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. That’s fascinating. So the other two areas of civil competency especially the contractual capacity, that seems similar to testamentary capacity? 

Dr. Emin: Yeah, it’s almost identical. I had look up the code specifically to be able to differentiate the specific criteria. Again, it’s different in different states.

So under California Probate Code section 812, this is strictly from the code. It basically says, “An individual lacks capacity to make a decision, unless they’re able to understand and appreciate all the following, basically the right duties and responsibilities created by or affected by the decision, the consequences for the decision-maker and the person’s being impacted by that, and the risks and benefits of making that decision.”

So it’s almost identical to the criteria for testamentary capacity. Again, the criteria can be very low. An example would be, if someone has, for example, Alzheimer’s disease and they’re having difficulty managing their finances and taking care of themselves and you decide that I want to sell my business, someone comes forward and buys their business for substantially less than it was worth, and then the family finds out about it and says, Hey, wait a minute. This business was worth a million dollars. My grandpa sold it for $500,000.

That’s when you would retain a psychologist, an attorney to go back and look at how this person was at the time or how they’ve been and the basis is, Hey, this person didn’t understand what they were doing. They didn’t understand what the true value of their property was. The decision they make was [00:58:00] not based on… It wasn’t a rational decision. They didn’t take into consideration all the factors when they made this decision. It’s a lower bar to try to challenge them to cross. 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah. This whole area is just fascinating to me and all the different ways that it might come up and the presentations you could see. And there’s so much. I don’t know. I think for a lot of us who don’t do it, there’s seemingly clear tie to TV and media and pop culture too. You always hear stories of wills being contested and people getting screwed over and cut out and all that kind of stuff. And the fact that you’re on the front lines 

Dr. Emin: It’s always between family members. It’s always family members. One side of the family doesn’t agree with the decision. So the other side of the family brings up an issue. But the examples you see on TV, I think make it more complicated than actually is. They add a little bit more drama to it. But again, like I said earlier, whenever it’s a legal evaluation, this is one advice I always give to people when it comes to whether it be competency or testamentary capacity, always find out what the legal question the person they want answered.

So from competencies is usually is this person competent? And based off of that, you could figure out what criteria you have to evaluate for. For testamentary capacity, you could talk to the attorney and find out what concerns they have and directly address it in your report. So it gives you some guidelines to be able to follow if they able to do an evaluation to hit all those points. 

Dr. Sharp: Yeah, I think that’s attractive to me at least. I would think to some other folks, too. Just having clear cut questions and statutes. Now, there’s always gray areas and people present in different ways and you have to navigate that, but sometimes it’s really nice just to have yes or no questions.

Dr. Emin: And generally what I’ll do is, before I even meet with an attorney, for whatever reason, I always ask them, Hey, what questions do you have? Sometimes some attorneys are good about it. They’ve been doing this for a while, so they can exactly explainable questions that they have.[01:00:00] Other times, some attorneys are a little bit more inexperienced in working with experts. They don’t understand what questions to ask. And that’s when I’ll work with them.

I usually I’ll ask them like, Hey, what concerns do you have about your case? And they’ll bring up a concern and say, you know what, I think this person is having a really hard time understanding me when I’m trying to present information to them. I think there might have some sort of cognitive deficit. So then you can answer that question very easily. Does this person have a cognitive deficit and be able to answer that question in your legal report? And then that can maybe directly speak to competency if it’s a pretrial phase and they haven’t gone to trial yet, and it might impact their ability to work with their attorney. 

Dr. Sharp: Well, this is cool. I really appreciate you being willing to talk through everything and bear with some of my naive questions. Before we wrap, I wonder if you have any resources to recommend to folks or a path. If they would like to start exploring this area of assessment, how would someone go about that? 

Dr. Emin: Yeah. I learned all my stuff through the American Academy of Forensic Psychology. They’re a great resource. They do workshops around the country 5, 6, 7 times a year, and they rotate cities. I have one time gone to one in Maine. That’s in Vegas. I think they just have one in Portland. So they’ll go to different parts of the country. And a lot of times the same types of topics and presentations will come up over and over again.

So if you want to learn about competency, they have a great competency workshop that gets repeated several times throughout the year. They have one that’s specifically about civil evaluations and civil competency. They have a great one on insanity. So they have these different legal-based about workshops that you could go through and learn more in-depth about it. And it’s not like a full substitution for everything you’re going to learn, but it’s a great way to learn about it. And the workshops are anywhere from 48 hours. They’re relatively pretty cheap, honestly. They’re around $250 bucks. So that’s pretty cheap as far as a [01:02:00] CEU in-person live workshops go.

Dr. Sharp: Sure. That’s great. Well, thank you. This has been an interesting discussion. Like a lot of discussions on the podcast, honestly, I’m just thinking about what would this be like, and is there a way to add those to our practice and things like that? It’s just fascinating.

Dr. Emin: Yeah, most of the people…

Dr. Sharp: I understand.

Dr. Emin: Yeah, it’s really interesting stuff. I definitely encourage people. If you want to learn more about it, don’t be too intimidated about it. You could learn it. I didn’t know this stuff three years ago and I took the steps to start taking classes, getting some mentorship through people that I know, and learning more about it. So just like with anything in psychology, if you want to be an expert at it and get really good at it, start taking classes, start getting some supervision. And eventually, you could do it if you really want to do it. 

Dr. Sharp: Nice. I think that’s a very positive and hopeful note to end on. You can do it.

Dr. Emin: Yeah.

Dr. Sharp: Thank you so much. I really appreciate the time. 

Dr. Emin: All right. Thank you so much. 

Dr. Sharp: All right y’all, thanks so much for tuning in to my episode with Dr. Emin Gharibian all about criminal and civil competency. I hope you learned a lot from that podcast. I definitely did. Certainly, I had no idea of the complexities of civil competency.

And on the flip side, I don’t think I understood how straightforward in a way criminal competency could be. There are a number of interesting points from that discussion. And again, thanks to Emin for coming on to chat with me about these topics. You can find some resources in the show notes, including two articles that he’s written outlining the differences between the two. Also some links to professional associations and training that could be helpful.

All right. Like I said at the beginning, hopefully when you’re hearing this, there are two of spots left in the mastermind groups. So those will [01:04:00] start late March, early April. These are group coaching experiences, a great way to get your feet wet with coaching and still take a lot away from the process and make some really significant progress in your practice. We’re seeing pretty amazing, really cool results just from the past few cohorts of the groups. So again, thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting, that will get you to the right place to apply for the groups.

All right y’all. Take care. Until next time.

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