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The Dietz Mental State Interview

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Dr. Park Dietz has an article in the current FBI Bulletin (November 2012), titled "Documenting a Suspect's State of Mind."

Many investigators have interviewed suspects who seemed to know exactly what they were doing but learned a year later that the individuals claimed insanity. Or, perhaps, officers have obtained confessions only to discover that the defendants subsequently claimed themselves incapable of voluntarily confessing.
What to do about it?  Should every suspect be promptly interviewed by a forensic psychiatrist?  That's probably not in the budget.  Fortunately, it is not necessary.  In a mental case, the defendant's mind is a crime scene.  Just like physical crime scene evidence, it is good to collect it promptly, before it decays or is contaminated, but it need not be analyzed at the same time or by the same person.

In the article, Dr. Dietz provides a protocol for an interview by an investigator, which should be video-recorded.
Documentation of the questions asked and the suspects' responses generally will provide attorneys, consulting or examining forensic mental health experts, and, ultimately, the jury and judge with the most immediate and best documented evidence of mental state--as reported by the suspect--that will become available in the case. Investigators do not need to interpret the results of this interview protocol, and they should seek consultation with a qualified forensic psychiatrist or psychologist if they require a professional interpretation before continuing the investigation.

Along with promptness, there is this additional value:

As an important advantage of including these questions in the original interviews by investigators, suspects will answer them before they have had an opportunity to enlist the aid of cellmates, publications, family, friends, or other sources constructing a mental defense or receiving guidance on how to phrase their answers to feign a mental illness.
Dr. Dietz diplomatically leaves out defense lawyers and defense mental health experts from the list of people who might coach a defendant on how to malinger.  In capital cases especially, though, we know it happens.  Maybe they are included in "other sources."

3 Comments

"Dr. Dietz diplomatically leaves out defense lawyers and defense mental health experts from the list of people who might coach a defendant on how to malinger. In capital cases especially, though, we know it happens."

Citation?

Don't know of any published source to cite. My knowledge of it comes from discussions with attorneys practicing in the field. Published articles tend to discuss the problem of attorney coaching in civil cases.

http://asm.sagepub.com/content/2/3/279

Were these discussions with defense attorneys who admitted to the coaching, or prosecutors who were complaining about it?