Comprehensive, Relevant Experience
Dr. Jane K. McNaught is a locally and nationally recognized forensic expert witness. Over the past 35-plus years, she has worked with defense and plaintiff attorneys and also has served as a court-appointed expert.
Dr. McNaught is qualified and has testified as an expert for the United States Army and Navy in the area of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She has administered more than 1700 psychological test batteries and testified on over 500 occasions as a forensic expert regarding adults and children in the areas of civil, criminal, and family law. She has been qualified as an expert in a variety of district and federal court settings in the State of Minnesota, as well as nationally.
Additionally, Dr. McNaught provides trial consultation and case preparation services for defense and plaintiff attorneys when psychological or psychiatric distress is in question. Learn more about Dr. Jane K. McNaught >
Data and Metrics are Filtered for Bias
Just as a physician administers tests, such as an MRI, EKG or CT scan to diagnose a patients’ illness, a psychologist uses psychological tests to assist in diagnosing mental illness and psychological problems. The most respected psychological tests used are standardized and allow the psychologist to compare the patient with a normal population of adults or children of the same age. The results of such testing can be used as demonstrative evidence when the psychologist testifies. Test data becomes a way for the psychologist to present hard data to the judge and jury. Psychological testing adds significant credibility when the psychologist testifies in court. Computerized test interpretations further provide access to a large, normative base, which assists in eliminating examiner bias.
There are a number of psychological tests proven to be valid and reliable in assessing symptoms of mental illness, emotional distress, cognitive and intellectual impairment, and personality traits. There are also test instruments that can assess malingering and dissimulation, which frequently occur in the context of legal issues.
Objective Evaluation Can Help Support Your Argument
A psychologist testifying as an expert witness can help judges and juries better understand psychological problems that impact forensic decisions. For example, in civil cases, questions of emotional damages related to injury often arise. A psychologist who administers psychological testing can diagnose the presence of, or lack of, alleged emotional injuries related to the incident in question. Rather than making subjective statements, psychologists rely on psychological testing to confirm a diagnosis of emotional injury.
What’s the Difference?
A forensic psychologist holds a doctoral degree in a field of psychology. The forensic psychologist should have significant training in the area of psychopathology, as well as clinical training. In addition, the forensic psychologist also has advanced graduate or post-graduate training in forensic psychology. Advanced training in forensic psychology provides the psychologist with an understanding of the legal issues involved in the chosen areas of practice in forensic psychology. This training also focuses on the use of statistically sound psychological testing that enhances court credibility and provides an objective avenue for diagnosing the client. Standardized psychological testing provides a scientific basis for the psychologist’s opinion.
In contrast, a forensic psychiatrist is trained as a medical doctor with a residency in psychiatry. The residency exposes the psychiatrist to information about the use of drugs to treat mental illness, and provides the psychiatrist with education about treating various clinical populations. Forensic psychiatrists are not trained in standardized testing to provide testing substantiation for their testimony.
Thorough Assessments and Reports
When hired as an expert, Dr. McNaught reviews medical and mental health treatment records, academic records, previous psychological examinations, employment records, and other legal documents. She then proceeds with a clinical interview to obtain a social history. Well-validated, reliable psychological testing, as well as situation-specific inventories are then administered. Contact with collateral sources is conducted, as needed.
Following the evaluation, Dr. McNaught provides an oral or written report, as requested. Her reports are comprehensive and based on solid clinical assessment, as well as an objective review of the pertinent records. The goal of these evaluations is to compare psychological testing and interview data with medical, counseling, and legal records to assess credibility and psychological functioning. Such evaluations further assess pre-existing, co-existing, and post-injury events on the client’s present psychological functioning.
Typically, the referring attorney contacts Dr. McNaught regarding forensic evaluations and forensic testimony. She will obtain a brief background from the attorney regarding the referral. The attorney will be provided with a retainer agreement – to be signed by the attorney and/or client. Dr. McNaught will then request that the attorney send a letter outlining the questions to be addressed in the evaluation or court testimony. Attorneys also are asked to provide Dr. McNaught with the pertinent legal, medical and mental health documents for review prior to the client’s appointment or report summarizing her opinions.
Critiquing the work of others typically involves comparing the evaluative procedures used by the other professional to the current standard of care for the evaluation in question. Such critiques also address the psychological testing relied upon, as well as the accuracy of the conclusions based on the case material.
What is Forensic Psychology?
Objective, Reliable Insight
A common misperception is that a forensic psychologist deals with the dead. Images of CSI commonly come to mind when this term is first heard. However, the word forensic means “connected to the legal justice system.” Forensic psychology is the intersection of the practice or study of psychology, and the justice system. Any specialist, such as a psychologist, physician, sociologist or dentist, can serve as a legal expert. When doing so, they are referred to as a forensic expert. Hence, the term forensic psychologist refers to a psychologist who is interfacing with the legal system and providing expert testimony to the court or attorneys about psychological issues.
Forensic psychologists hold a doctoral degree in a field of psychology. They also have specialized training in forensic psychology focused on the legal areas in which they work. In addition, a forensic psychologist has clinical training and is experienced in the administration of psychological tests that meet the highest standards of objectivity and reliability.
In a clinical setting, a psychologist accepts the client’s view as truth. However, in the role of forensic psychologist, the psychologist retains an objective role that involves investigative work to substantiate information provided by the client. Psychological testing is also used to substantiate claims of mental illness or emotional damages. Forensic psychologists working directly with attorneys or the court may provide psychological testing, personality assessment, assessment of mitigating factors, assessment of sexual offenders, competency evaluations, and make recommendations regarding parental custody or visitation.
Questions? Contact Dr. McNaught >