PSY 4470 South University David Mitchell Forensic Assessment Essay


Forensic Assessment

For this assignment, you will conduct Internet research on the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping trials. In brief, Smart was abducted at the age of fourteen from her home in Utah. Over nine months later, she was found with her kidnappers, Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Ileen Barzee (now deceased). During Mitchell’s trial, consideration was given with respect to whether he was competent to stand trial. The legal standard for “competence to stand trial” has not changed since the US Supreme Court decision: “Our challenge is whether [the defendant] has sufficient present ability to consult with his lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding, and whether he has a rational as well as a factual understanding of the proceedings against him” (Stafford, 2003).
While conducting your research, pay particular attention to the information you obtain regarding her kidnapper Mitchell. Based on your research, address the following:

  • Describe Mitchell’s profile. Describe some of his personality traits, and explain what you learned about his mental state at the time of the trial.
  • Explain how you would proceed with assessing Mitchell’s competency to stand trial. Analyze the considerations you would make, and based on your analysis, explain whether you think he was competent to stand trial.
  • Describe your views about Mitchell’s competency compared to the criminal justice process and how it measures competency. Analyze and explain whether there are any discrepancies or conflicts between these views.

Additionally, for this assignment, you will explore how clinicians determine competency to stand trial.

To prepare, you may read the following articles from the Internet or the South University Online Library:

Heilbrun, K., Hawk, G., & Tate, D. C. (1996). Juvenile competence to
stand trial: Research issues in practice. Law and Human Behavior,
20(5), 573–578.

Lipsitt, P. D., Lelos, D., & McGarry, A. L. (1971). Competency for trial:
A screening instrument. American Journal of Psychiatry, 128(1), 105–109.

Zapf, P. A., &Roesch, R. (2000). Mental competency evaluations:
Guidelines for judges and attorneys. Court Review, 37, 28–35.

After reviewing the articles, address the following:

  • Explain how clinicians determine competency. Identify the factors that clinicians consider when determining competencies.
  • Explain what is considered the standard for determining whether a person is competent to stand trial.
  • Describe some of the reasons evaluators must separate the developmental stages from the psychopathological causes of competence.

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