Chapter Title

Psychological Defenses and Mitigation of Punishment

Document Type

Book Chapter


The growing realization that flawed forensics has destroyed innocent lives and caused responsible parties to escape justice has prompted systematic studies of forensic methods, leading to recommendations for reform. Mental health forensics have not benefited from a similar systematic scientific assessment. Failure to adhere to forensic standards related to mental health and cognitive abilities can contribute to wrongful convictions and punishments when the legal actors—judge, jury, prosecutor, or defense attorney—lack accurate or complete information. In this chapter, after an overview of Edward Lee Elmore’s struggle with the American criminal justice system, we discuss the need to investigate mental health issues, the general guidelines for such investigations, and the importance utilizing a multidisciplinary defense team qualified to understand signs of mental health and cognitive challenges. It is only through this systematic, thorough, accurate assessment that one can come to understand how specific impairments operated in the defendant’s everyday life, thereby avoiding a miscarriage of justice.

Publication Date


Book Title

Forensic Science Reform: The Psychology and Sociology of Wrongful Convictions