An analogue study of the factors influencing competency decisions.
R. K. Blashfield, L. Robbins and G. W. Barnard,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
22(4): 587-94, 1994.
Forensic psychiatrists who were members of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
analyzed case histories to make a competency or incompetency decision. The case histories were
created to alter background information, diagnostic information, information about the defendants'
understanding of the adversarial process, courtroom behavior, and the nature of the crime. The
information that had the most influence on the decisions of the forensic psychiatrists included the
cognitive status of the defendant, psychotic features, courtroom behavior, and understanding of the
adversarial process. Relationship with the lawyer, alcohol/drug use history, psychiatric history, and
criminal history had less influence. The forensic psychiatrists tended to "error" toward a decision for
competency unless compelling evidence was presented to the contrary.