Background of the College by Michael F. Cleary, M.D.

From 1981 to the present I have been deeply involved with the American College of Forensic Psychiatry, beginning with an organizational meeting at the Glorietta Bay Inn in October, 1981 at the same time that the AAPL meeting was held across the street at the Hotel del Coronado. The initial advisory board included inter alia, Melvin Belli, trial attorney; Thomas Szasz, M.D.; C.H. Hardin Branch, M.D., former American Psychiatric Association president; Ronald Shlensky, M.D., J.D., founding editor of the American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, and John or Debbie Mueller, as executive directors of the College; Ed , a graduate of Dartmouth College and New York editor; Debbie, a graduate of The University of California. who became editor of the American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry. The description and purpose of the College were set out at that time by this small group.

The College is an association of psychiatrists and attorneys and other concerned scholars who have a common interest in the interface of psychiatry and law, as well as the theoretical relationships. Most members frequently serve the needs of the civil and criminal courts as experts by interviewing and evaluating plaintiffs and defendants, and by rendering medical opinion to judges and juries. Emblematic of the sorrow that so often brings patients, plaintiffs and defendants into court, a brief line from Cicero was suggested as a motto: Quae potest homini major esse poena furor atque dementia - No greater punishment can man endure than anguish of mind.

Each year since 1981 the College has hosted a symposium on forensic psychiatry and has published the American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry, with Debra Miller as its editor. Since that time we have added a directory of expert psychiatric witnesses for attorneys; fellowship status for members; residents membership and an associate membership for attorneys. The organization has been accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide CME for physicians. The 2002 symposium, for example, was designated for 23 credit hours in Category I of the Physicians Recognition Award of the American Medical Association.

The American College of Forensic Psychiatry is complementary to, rather than competitive with AAPL. It is a younger and smaller association that focuses on the skills and practice issues of forensic psychiatry.

A Perspective on the College Meetings by Eric Fine, M.D.

I have been attending American College of Forensic Psychiatry meetings regularly since the first meeting that was given in Santa Barbara in 1983. I was so impressed and gratified that this symposium has now become the highlight of my academic year, and the conference I most enjoy. This level of satisfaction is, in my experience, very unusual compared with most meetings I attend, and there are several unique features of these meetings that I would like to point out.

First of all, the psychiatrists, attorneys, psychologists and other mental health professionals who regularly attend are exceptionally friendly, stimulating, talented and experienced in a wide variety of the many areas of forensic psychiatry. The organization of the meetings is superb, the presentations of high quality and often controversial, the topics cutting-edge, and the caliber of the speakers extremely high.

The American College of Forensic Psychiatry meetings are quite different from the larger, usually frantic, and often impersonal gatherings one finds at many others. While these kinds of meetings have their uses, they tend to present to huge audiences, and rarely provide a non-threatening forum where meaningful interaction amongst the participants can occur. This is critically important for learning to be maximized and is a characteristic of ACFP meetings. While lectures and workshops dominate most conferences, ACFP emphasizes the practical understanding and management of specific areas in forensic psychiatry, and makes for the acquisition of increased expertise in everyday challenges in our field. Some of the mock trials have been the best I have listened to. While the whole symposium has an air of informality, this is accomplished without loss of excellence and structure.

Mental Health Experts

The American College of Forensic Psychiatry is listed in Mental Health Experts: Roles and Qualifications for Court. as a "Key Association and Organizaztion" in the field of Forensic Psychiatry. The authors are Frank M. Dattilio, Ph.D. and Robert L. Sadoff, M.D. The book was published in 2002 by PBI Press.


Douglas Anderson, MD, New York City; Marshall S Cherkas,MD, PhD, Los Angeles; Michael F Cleary, MD, Forensic Psychiatry, Scottsdale, AZ Coodley, MD, PhD, Los Angeles, CA; Albert M. Drukteinis, M.D., J.D., Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship Program, Dartmouth Medical School; Eric W Fine, MD, Philadelphia, PA; David N Glaser, MD, Los Angeles, CA; Clay Griffith, MD, Dallas, TX; Donald T Lunde, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford Medical School; Franklin D Master, MD, Forensic Psychiatry, Las Vegas, NV; James J McDonald, Jr, JD, Fisher & Phillips, Newport Beach, CA; Timothy J Michals, MD, Philadelphia, PA; Eva Rado, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, NY Medical College; Carla Rodgers, M.D., Philadelphia, PA;Roger T Sharp, JD, Salt Lake City, UT; Ronald Shlensky, MD, JD, Santa Barbara-Ventura Forensic Psychiatry; Founding Editor, American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry; Patricia White, MD, Clinical and Forensic Psychiatry, Stockton, CA

Debra Miller, Executive Director, American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry;
Editor, American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry
Ed Miller, Co-Director, American College of Forensic Psychiatry

TELEPHONE: (111) 111-2222 FAX: (111) 222-3333

 2004 Program | Guest Book | The Journal | Attorney's Directory of Forensic Psychiatrists
2003 Symposium | 2002 Symposium | Books | Send us an Email | Home Page