Neuropsychologist Experts and Civil Capacity Evaluations: Representative Cases

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Clinical neuropsychologists accept more forensic referrals now and spend more time in forensic consulting than ever before. Recent surveys show weekly hours devoted to forensic consulting increased 97% in the past decade. During the same time period, the number of board certified neuropsychologists more than doubled. Under recently published Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology, clinical neuropsychologists practice forensic psychology when applying scientific, technical, or specialized knowledge of neuropsychology to the law to assist in addressing legal, contractual, or administrative matters. Among those increasingly varied forensic referrals, clinical neuropsychologists are conducting more civil competency and capacity evaluations. Representative cases from three jurisdictions demonstrate how neuropsychologists provide expertize in matters involving testamentary capacity, contractual capacity, business judgments, and job capacity. Case presentations illustrate some of the strengths and weaknesses of neuropsychological evaluation of civil capacities. The article concludes with a “battle of experts” case involving five neuropsychologists with opposing opinions recently heard in a Federal Appellate court. Implications for neuropschology training and forensic competencies are considered. In offering quality services to the legal profession, neuropsychologists support the truth-seeking function of the judiciary, promote justice, protect the profession, and serve public policy.

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