December 4, 2009

Record-breaking fee for competency report?

Forensic psychologists: If someone ever complains about your bill, you might want to share this little factoid:

A psychiatrist's competency report in the Brian David Mitchell case (Elizabeth Smart kidnapping in Utah) cost a whopping half million dollars.

And that was just for the report. It doesn't include the cost of expert testimony at Mitchell's competency hearing, currently in progress. And, believe it or not, that was the discounted rate.

Granted, Michael Welner's report was 206 pages long, and took 1,000 hours to produce. That makes the hourly fee $500, not inordinately high for a prominent forensic psychiatrist. But 1,000 hours is an awful lot of time to devote to any one case.

In testimony today, the prosecution's expert testified that in addition to evaluating Mitchell, he also did research on polygamy, the Mormon church, and related issues of revelation, prophets and Joseph Smith.

His bottom-line conclusion: Mitchell was motivated more by lust than religion or psychosis.

If anyone knows of a higher fee for a forensic report, or even a fee that comes close to this one, please let me know and I'll post your response.

Desert News coverage is HERE. An interesting commentary on Welner's controversial role -- and his fee -- in Andrea Yates' sanity trial is HERE. For more background on both Welner (author of the "Depravity Scale") and the Mitchell competency hearing, see my Sept. 1 post.