Evaluating competency to stand trial with evidence-based practice

Richard Rogers, Jill Johansson-Love
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 2009, 37 (4): 450-60
Evaluations for competency to stand trial are distinguished from other areas of forensic consultation by their long history of standardized assessment beginning in the 1970s. As part of a special issue of the Journal on evidence-based forensic practice, this article examines three published competency measures: the MacArthur Competence Assessment Tool-Criminal Adjudication (MacCAT-CA), the Evaluation of Competency to Stand Trial-Revised (ECST-R), and the Competence Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants with Mental Retardation (CAST-MR). Using the Daubert guidelines as a framework, we examined each competency measure regarding its relevance to the Dusky standard and its error and classification rates. The article acknowledges the past polarization of forensic practitioners on acceptance versus rejection of competency measures. It argues that no valuable information, be it clinical acumen or standardized data, should be systematically ignored. Consistent with the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Practice Guideline, it recommends the integration of competency interview findings with other sources of data in rendering evidence-based competency determinations.

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