Monday, October 27, 2008

Trials of a Forensic Psychologist: A Casebook

The latest from forensic psychologist Charles Ewing

No sooner do I get done reviewing law professor Charles Ewing's book, Insanity: Murder, Madness, and the Law, than the internationally known forensic psychologist and legal scholar cranks out another one.

Ewing's latest, Trials of a Forensic Psychologist, is also his most autobiographical to date, drawing on his 30 years of experience in the trenches and in some of the nation's most high-profile cases. As such, it promises to be an engaging read as well as good fodder for course instructors.

"Many people, myself included, have written books examining high-profile controversial cases whose verdicts hinged on the testimony of forensic experts," Ewing said. "My goal in this book was to take that genre one step further. After sorting through the many trials in which I have testified throughout the United States, I selected 10 high-profile cases that were not only fascinating, but allowed me to give readers an intimate and detailed look at my work as a forensic psychologist."

I was interested to see that women are well represented among the 10 cases, which include:

  • Waneta Hoyt, who under intense pressure confessed to killing five of her children whose deaths had originally been attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Judith Neelley, a battered woman and the youngest American woman to serve time on death row, was convicted of committing the heinous murders of two women at the behest of her abusive husband.
  • Richard Knupp, charged with over 1,400 counts of sexually abusing his own children, who was first convicted and then exonerated in a second trial.
  • Shirley Kinge, whose son murdered a family during a robbery before himself being killed by police. The mother was convicted as an accomplice but was exonerated based on evidence that a prosecution expert had falsified evidence against her and many other criminal defendants.
In the process of profiling the 10 cases, Ewing discusses a variety of psycholegal issues, including Miranda rights waivers, coerced confessions, the insanity defense, malingering, the battered woman's defense, and child sexual abuse evaluations.

Ewing, a professor at the University of Buffalo Law School, has several books to his credit, including Fatal Families, Kids Who Kill, and an excellent, co-authored case-study book, "Minds on Trial."

The book's table of contents and excerpts are available here.
Photo credit: Douglas Levere

2 comments:

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