Mental Illness and Legal Fitness (Competence) to Stand Trial in New York State: Expert Opinion and Criminal Defendants' Psychiatric Symptoms*,†

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


Fitness to Stand Trial is a critical concept in the adjudication of justice-involved persons. A retrospective study was conducted to examine criminal defendants' specific psychiatric symptoms and those symptoms' associations with expert opinions on Competence to Stand Trial. One hundred charts were reviewed: 50 Cases (opined as Not Fit) were compared against 50 Controls (opined as Fit) with respect to ratings on the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). A significance level of 0.001 was selected a priori. Statistically significant differences were found in seven of the eighteen BPRS symptom constructs (with the highest differences in Conceptual Disorganization and Unusual Thought Content) and two of the four BPRS higher-order syndrome factors (Thinking Disorder and Hostile-Suspiciousness). Consistent with previous reports, psychotic symptoms are found in this study to be inversely associated with Fitness. Validity, reliability, and limitations of this study, as well as directions for future research, are discussed herein.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles