Fellows participate in a weekly one-hour seminar with UC faculty and other forensic experts in Cincinnati on a variety of specialty forensic topics. In addition, clinical faculty lead weekly one hour didactic sessions in fulfillment of ACGME requirements, including:
- History of forensic psychiatry
- Roles and responsibilities of forensic psychiatrists
- Assessing adjudicative competence and criminal responsibility
- Testamentary capacity and civil competencies
- Issues involved in the assessment of dangerousness
- Assessment of the accused sexual offender
- Evaluation and treatment of incarcerated individual
- Ethical and administrative issues
- Legal regulation of psychiatric practice
- Writing of a forensic report
- Eyewitness testimony of children
Classes at the University of Cincinnati College of Law
Through a collaboration with the UC College of Law, forensic psychiatric fellows take two sequential classes with law students who are fellows at the law school’s Glenn M. Weaver Institute of Law and Psychiatry. Taught by A. J. Stephani, Esq. (an attorney who specializes in psycholegal matters), these classes focus on “landmark” legal cases that address the broad variety of matters in which the law seeks psychiatrists’ input, including civil commitment, competence to stand trial, the insanity defense, personal injury, malpractice, child custody, and child abuse.
Beyond learning about cases, law students and forensic psychiatry fellows share experiences and their perspectives with learners from another disciplines and get to teach each other about their fields’ knowledge bases, thinking styles, and approaches to psycholegal matters.
Law Tutorial Classes
To supplement classes at the UC College of Law, Mr. Stephani holds several special tutorials with forensic psychiatry fellows to introduce basic legal concepts, to prepare fellows for their duties as expert witnesses, and to ready fellows for their experiences in law school classes. Focusing on workings of the legal system directly related to forensic psychiatry, these tutorials cover:
- Fundamentals of law, statutes, and administrative regulations
- Structure of federal and state court systems
- Using legal research materials
- Theory and practice of sentencing
- Basic aspects of civil and criminal procedure, jurisdiction, and tort law
Each fellow completes a scholarly project by the end of the academic year. Past fellowship projects have included developing presentations for national meetings, retrospective and prospective research, case law analyses, and collaborating on a faculty member’s established research program.
Whatever form it takes, the project should generate a work product that is suitable for publication. Fellows present the results of their scholarly projects at local psychiatric meetings, such as grand rounds held by the UC Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience department.
Private Case Experiences
The UC forensic psychiatry division functions as a clearinghouse for private civil and criminal forensic psychiatric evaluations conducted by psychiatry department faculty. Fellows join faculty in these activities, participate as observers, report writers,, or primary evaluators. Types of assessments include allegations of psychiatric malpractice, independent medical examinations, insanity assessments, possible false confessions, fitness for duty, psychological autopsies, threat assessment, domestic relations matters, professional licensure, and death penalty mitigation—to give just a few examples.
Faculty members expect fellows to participate in as many private practice evaluations cases as their time allows. Often conducted by the division’s forensic psychology expert, Scott Bresler, Ph.D., these experiences allow fellows to become familiar with techniques and theories of psychological assessment that go well beyond the training of most forensic psychiatrists.
Clinical and legal faculty also moderate the journal club, which meets on the first Thursday of every month at the Kingsgate Marriott. The fellowship provides meals at the journal club for fellows. Journal club participants include forensic psychiatrists, psychologists, lawyers, and law students from the Cincinnati region.