Book Review: Clinicians in court: A guide to subpoenas, depositions, testifying, and everything else you need to know

Archives > Volume 21 (2024) > Issue 1 > Item 14

DOI: 10.55521/10-021-114

Barsky, A. (2024). Clinicians in court: A guide to subpoenas, depositions, testifying, and everything else you need to know (3rd ed.). Guilford.

Reviewed by Bishnu Mohan Dash, MSW, MPhil, PhD, ICSSR PDF, Department of Social Work, Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, University of Delhi, Delhi

This text may be freely shared among individuals, but it may not be republished in any medium without express written consent from the authors and advance notification of IFSW.

This book provides a better understanding of potential challenges faced by clinicians who are often called as witnesses in a range of circumstances in various judicial and quasi-judicial systems. It presents various case illustrations of clients from different populations, viz. refugees; clients suffering from depression, sexual abuse, or AIDS; elder adults; clients with brain injuries; and autistic children. By using various intensive case studies, the book explains the important roles performed by clinicians in legal proceedings. Clinicians participating in court proceedings are also expected to testify in other legal forums including administrative courts and non-court tribunals/boards dealing with appeals relating to social assistance, public housing, parole, and professional licensing; mental health review boards; legislative committees; special commissions of inquiry; and criminal injury compensation boards. This book presents best practices of record keeping, responding to subpoenas, preparing case reports, presenting testimony as a fact witness or expert witness, as well as managing ethical dilemmas and lessening the malpractice risks.

The book is divided into eleven chapters including the introduction.  The first chapter provides a general overview of legal processes, and the second chapter discusses in detail the basics for presenting factual evidence in the courts. In addition, it discusses how to raise awareness of attitudes, values and beliefs of clinicians working with courts and legal systems. The other chapters discuss more specialized issues such as acting as an expert witness in the roles of consultant, educator of the court, and fact opinion expert. It covers preparing reports, affidavits, and other documentary evidence dealing with malpractice claims and other professional complaints, as well as how to participate effectively in pretrial disclosure processes and alternatives to adjudicative hearings. In the last chapter, which discusses the future of clinicians in court, the author offers vision for the future in regard to credibility of clinicians, opinion evidence, interpersonal education, and practice standards specially designed for clinicians. The book describes the contemporary relevant topics essential for clinicians in courts, particularly on restorative justice, ways to respond to subpoenas by using technology effectively during court room presentations, therapeutic witnessing and more.

This book serves as an essential guide to both experienced clinicians providing treatment and novice forensic mental health professionals, as it provides relevant information on foundational knowledge by using case illustrations, along with genograms and ecomaps of clients, it reflects on substantial developments to case law and statutes in consonance with codes of ethics and practice guidelines of various professional organizations. In each chapter, there is a separate element on ‘upon further reflections’ which enables the readers to reflect on their own situation related to legal settings.  The book is quite essential for practicing clinicians as it contains guidelines and step-by-step procedures for different roles to be performed by clinicians in different settings.

For any further clarifications on legal terminology, the book provides an index and glossary at the end of the book. The book also consists of various appendices that provide sample forms and legal documents relevant for clinicians. In addition, the book provides sufficient case illustrations and reflections on a variety of cases, including ancillary materials in the companion website. This book will definitely be a rich source of knowledge and experience that can alleviate anxiety and provide a greater source of control for the clinicians engaged in legal proceedings.