Criminal Justice

Forensic psychiatrists are trained to evaluate defendants for evidence or absence of psychiatric disorders that impair competence or diminish capacity. Following the Daubert decision, guidelines for reliability and relevance of expert evidence have evolved. Thus, experts today need additional preparation (e.g. literature review) prior to offering courtroom testimony. The following articles provide a deeper analysis of forensic psychiatry.

Aspects of criminal justice that a forensic psychiatrist works with include:

Diminished Capacity

Sentencing Guidelines

Forensic psychiatric testimony can affect sentencing. Since a defendant found to be suffering from a psychiatric symptom often receives a less severe sentence, accurately determining a defendant's psychiatric health is important in judging the severity of the offense and the potential for rehabilitation and future offense prevention.

Competency to Confess

False Confessions can be based on helplessness, hopelessness, and interrogation dynamics. A forensic psychiatric examination can help evaluate reliability of confession and potential confounding factors. Dr. Bursztajn's evaluated and testified as a forensic neuropsychiatric expert on altered mental states leading to false confessions for Luc Angier. Mr. Angier was a city official wrongly accused of a white collar crime who while depressed confessed to a crime he did not commit (State of Maine v. Angier). Dr. Bursztajn's expert consultation and testimony was seriously considered by the jury in its acquittal of the defendant. Post acquittal, further investigation proved the defendant's innocence.

Brain Syndromes

Physical damage or abnormality in the brain can affect behavioral and thought processes. Dr. Bursztajn was among the first experts to be allowed to use brain imaging in the courtroom to support a forensic neuropsychiatric evaluation and testimony.

Drugs & Addictions


Workplace & Public Safety

Dr. Bursztajn's consulting services include prevention, crisis response, and post-crisis post-vention for traumatized co-workers.

Violence Prevention

Violence is sometimes a problem in legal proceedings. Attorneys and judges in litigation related proceedings have been cautioned about violence prevention. Dr. Bursztajn's work in judicial education and courtroom violence has been widely recognized.

Domestic Violence

Bioterrorism Prevention

Nuremberg Code

Recommended Reading:

Legal Resources: The Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) is a fifteen-member body established by Chapter 211D of the Massachusetts General Laws to oversee the provision of legal representation to indigent persons in the Commonwealth. For more information, see the CPCS Mental Health Litigation Home Page.

Dr. Bursztajn has an active patient care practice and consults to physicians, institutions, judges, and plaintiff and defense counsel nationally.