Matrimonial attorneys and judges experience a wide range of quality and style in forensic-psychological reports. Courts across the country are struggling to determine the parameters for reliable and professionally appropriate custody assessments.
There has been a trend in recent years to request that senior practitioners provide peer reviews of psychological evaluations to help assess the degree to which a particular assessment was performed in a manner that suggests reliability and fidelity to professional guidelines.
The Peer Review (or Work Product Review) service provided by Dr. Wittmann offers attorneys a comprehensive analysis of a forensic report and detailed and annotated opinions about the ways in which a forensic evaluation either conforms to, or deviates from, accepted professional standards. His Custody Assessment Analysis System (CAAS, MatLaw, 2013) is the foundational model used for such reviews, a model that clearly articulates a summary of forensic strengths and weaknesses for the referring attorney and that can provide a road-map for effective direct or cross examination of the expert.
The Peer Review service can be accessed in one of three ways:
Single-Stage Testimonial Role: Dr. Wittmann completes the peer review of the forensic custody report, offers his opinion to the legal team, and a decision is made for him to either (a) testify in defense of, or in opposition to the report or (b) to have him close his file in the matter. In this role Dr. Wittmann can produce a report for the legal team to submit to their adversaries and/or the court.
Single-Stage Trial Consultant Role: Dr. Wittmann is asked in advance to work for the legal team in support of it's efforts to advocate for a litigant. It is clearly understood that there wil be no request for testimony. The review is completed to assist the legal team prepare for negotiations or trial. In this role Dr. Wittmann can assist with the crafting of a motion in limine in support of excluding a particular report from admission into evidence, with cross examination development, and can provide in-court assistance (See Litigation Support).
Two Stage Model: Dr. Wittmann begins his role assuming the possibility of testimony. If, after hearing his opinion, the legal team decides he will not testify, a decision can be made to convert his role to that of background trial consultant (See Litigation Support).
The roles of testimonial expert (focused on objective assistance to the court) and trial consultant (focused on assisting a legal team in its efforts to prevail) are ethically incompatible. Dr. Wittmann therefore asks law firms to eventually choose one role over the other for his services.