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Report Writer bias
#1
I am just wondering how easy or hard it is to not just dispute the family report, but to somehow remove the psychologist from your case?

Our psychologist, who is apparently preparing a family report, is a female who has made some negative comments to me, suggesting that she believes what my ex told her without seeking any proof.

She has also seen my ex 4 times, twice without the kids, and I suspect that they have a friendship that is outside the professional situation.

If I can prove this friendship, is it possible for me to get her discharged from the case?
 
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#2
Hi, Whether the psychologist is taken off the case or not is entirely up to the judge. 

However, if you can prove that there is what is called a "dual relationship" such as you describe, which creates a conflict of interest, that psychologist would be answerable to AHPRA for an ethics breach and could be sanctioned or de-registered. 

Negative comments to you that suggest bias might be hard to prove unless the session was recorded and you can obtain an independently-done transcript or raw audio file, however, these again go to the judge's discretion. 

The same goes for giving the ex more "air time" to express things that you were given. 

In theory the report writer will represent that they do not make factual determinations, because this is up to the court.

However, they can be called on this in cross-examination and made to look like they are pre-empting the judge.
 
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#3
(24-Jul-2015, 10:03 AM)JGermani Wrote: I am just wondering how easy or hard it is to not just dispute the family report, but to somehow remove the psychologist from your case?

Our psychologist, who is apparently preparing a family report, is a female who has made some negative comments to me, suggesting that she believes what my ex told her without seeking any proof.

She has also seen my ex 4 times, twice without the kids, and I suspect that they have a friendship that is outside the professional situation.

If I can prove this friendship, is it possible for me to get her discharged from the case?

Hi, 

It is something that you have to argue to the judge, and hope that the judge agrees.  

The first point, about accepting your ex's allegations without proof, sounds like "apprehended bias," where the picture one is left with is of apparent bias. Simply put if it's all "she says this, she says that, therefore he is..." with no acknowledgement of your case, that's pretty clear apprehended bias to me, and hopefully to your judge.  However, if it's more along the lines of "If what she says is true, X, but if what he says is true, Y" then she is performing her forensic duties, and accepting that facts have not yet been determined.This is why I am of the view that there should be an evidence hearing prior to the family report being written, so at least there are some factual determinations to work with, that the judge will accept as part of the logic of the report.  That is why an outside opinion from a lawyer or psychologist on the exact wording can help you, because often times people read the report emotionally, and negative things about oneself tend to jump out disproportionately, because of the reader/litigant's reaction, instead of what is actually said. 

Apprehended bias might also be argued from the time spent interviewing both of you. If she has spent twice the time with her as with you, there is a matter of procedural fairness to consider. There is also the question, fairly raised, of whether she has "multiple roles," where she may be providing treatment to your ex, which conflates objective truth-finding with therapeutic goals that have no place in the court process. A subpoena of all notes would probably be in order, to determine whether this is what is going on, as the supposed "family report" goals are undermined if she forms a therapeutic alliance with your ex that has entirely different goals. 

There is also the matter of the Expert Witness Code of Conduct. Your argument depends on her failure to make all necessary inquiries. This means you need to show that certain inquiries were clearly necessary, and that she did in fact fail to make them.  The devil may be in the details of the documents she lists as having been read as part of the report.  It may not be her bias that led her to ignore elements of your case, but rather, the ICL's failure to provide them to her because for whatever reason the ICL is building a biased case against you, and providing biased information to the report writer. I have seen this happen in the past. Alternatively, she may list documents as having been "read," which do in fact contain elements that address the inquiries that you felt should have been made. 

As regards conflict of interest, the case you describe is fairly strong, if you can prove such a friendship, because that is more solid grounds for actual bias. It returns to the point about "multiple roles" noted above. It can also be grounds for disciplinary action by AHPRA (see http://www.ahpra.gov.au, where you can check this psychologist's registration and any past sanctions).  Psychologists have to live up to an ethical code of conduct that precludes them from providing services to family and friends.  Forensic reporters also need to be mindful of multiple roles that can undermine truth-seeking functions.  If you call AHPRA on the number on their website and ask for ethical standards for psychologists and complaints, they can advise on the process. Be aware that concrete proof would be needed, as it is not something they take lightly. 

Regards,

Travis.

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