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UVa. Study Suggests Bias from Courtroom Experts

April 1, 2013

A new study on impartial courtroom experts found that they are not so impartial.

In many court cases forensic psychologists and psychiatrists are hired to provide testimony on the likeliness of a sexual offender repeating a crime.

A recent University of Virginia study of one hundred experts found their opinions were often swayed based on whether they believed they were working for the defense or the prosecution.

"Those experts who believed they were working for the prosecution, tended to see the same offenders as higher risk, more likely to re-offend; they scored them as more likely to re-offend," said Daniel Murrie, a researcher in the study. "The experts who believed they were working for the defense scored those same experts as less likely to re-offend."

The researchers hope the study will prompt clinicians to take a harder look at how they are trained and practice.

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