Second Opinions

FOR LAWYERS:
Tools for Cross-Examining Adverse
Psychological Child Custody Evaluations


Families Deserve a Second Opinion!

Tired of seeing bad child custody reports getting rubberstamped approval?
Incompetent child custody evaluations compromise your case.  They compromise your client’s rights and their children’s needs. We provide an option to fight back!

A good child custody evaluation is fair in its assessment of both parents/guardians.  It is professional, competent, objective and thorough. Sometimes child custody evaluations are none of these things; rather they are biased and contain unwarranted conclusions.  Sometimes an evaluator clearly allies with and elects to believe one party and not the other.  Is this evident from the report?  Are the recommendations consistent with the observations?  Are gross leaps of logic evident? Is the language unnecessarily derogatory?  Are one party’s weaknesses minimized while the other’s are over-stated?  Does the evaluator wrongly promote one parent and vilify the other?

We offer a solution to this problem.  Dr. Mitchell Harris can provide a credible and articulate professional critique of child custody evaluations.  Such critiques can be indispensable in planning cross examination of the parties or evaluator at deposition or at trial.  Dr.Mitchell Harris is also available for direct or rebuttal testimony upon review of the report, raw data, or independent psychological testing.

Our procedure is to contact the referring attorney upon reviewing the evaluation and convey our impression of the report’s validity. If the report is found to be invalid, a detailed report is made specifying the evaluation's weaknesses. If the evaluation appears to be valid, Dr. Harris can assist the attorney in minimizing the adverse effect of this evidence at trial.

An open  letter to lawyers from Dr. Harris:

"Too many 730 evaluations wrongly and unfairly vilify one of the parties.  Many of these reports are not supported by proper methodology.  Conclusions lacking foundation and conclusory statements are common.  All too often the evaluator has formed an inappropriate psychological alliance with one of the parties.  In such cases, the evaluator’s  negative opinion of your client is based upon the evaluator’s personal biases and not upon the actual psychological data.  Attorneys are too often faced with the challenge of defending their clients against inaccurate expert opinions. Judges lack the training to recognize the presence of bias in these reports.

I provide a solution.  I teach attorneys how to successfully impeach these reports.  These 730 evaluations are extremely vulnerable to attack if one is able to detect and explain their weak points.  Often the underlying data plainly mean something quite different that what the evaluator wrote.  I can help you convincingly demonstrate this.

My service enables the retaining attorney to powerfully demonstrate the erroneous nature of the conclusions in these evaluations. This empowers you to provide a fair hearing for your clients.  Also, it strengthens your practice and reputation. Finally, I believe we help educate the bar about how to properly read a psychological evaluation.  This in turn improves the quality of dispute resolution services that you can deliver.

In one case in which I participated, the attorney’s cross examination of the evaluator at deposition was so damaging to the 730 report’s credibility that the other party did not enter it in evidence even though the report favored that party. At trial, the judge ignored the psychologist’s recommendations. When I showed up to testify in this matter, the other party’s counsel decided to make rather large concessions and my testimony was not even called upon.

I believe that  these services can be a powerful tool in your practice.  I would very much enjoy getting to meet you and discuss how I can be of benefit to your practice and to your clients."


Disclaimer

Any critique offered will be based upon an honest review of the data and report.  Dr. Harris cannot agree in advance of reviewing this material that he will disagree with the evaluator’s methodology or findings.

However, what we can promise in advance is a competent analysis of the methods, interpretation of data, reasoning and conclusions.  What we can promise in advance is that when such analysis leads to conclusions discrepant from those given in the report, a credible and detailed analysis of the factual, interpretive and methodological errors will  be made. We can also promise that the basis of our critique will be completely consistent with the highest standard of psychological practice.

We are committed to the highest standards of professional integrity.
"We are paid for our time, not our opinion!"


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