Psychiatrists urge for stricter rules over who can be an expert witness

Guy Turcotte
PHOTO: THE GAZETTE

The Quebec Association of Psychiatrists is fighting for tighter control over who can testify in court as a psychiatric expert.

They were moved to issue their recommendations following the public outcry that emerged after Guy Turcotte was found not criminally responsible for killing his two children. Turcotte’s ex-wife, Isabelle Gaston, has spoken out numerous times over the need to have psychiatrists held accountable for their testimony.

According to the president of the association, Karine Igartua, there aren't any guidelines stipulating who can be considered a psychiatric expert in court. Consequently it has sent seven recommendations to the Quebec College of Physicians and the provinces department of justice.

“A lawyer can call me up and ask for my opinion in a murder trial. I can say, ‘I think your client is guilty’ and they’ll say, ‘thank you very much’ and go to the next guy until they find somebody who will say what they want,” said Igartua.

Also at issue is the fact that the prosecution is disqualified from retaining any experts that have already been approached by the defence. At a news conference held yesterday Igartua called the present set of circumstances “perverse.” She wants judges to be able to request expertise themselves; thereby bypassing lawyers who are attempting to manipulate the pool of available experts. 

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  1. ric posted on 02/08/2014 08:52 AM
    Psychiatry and psychology are NOT exact sciences. They are merely opinions of a person. Their testimonies in court are NOT based on any facts but on suppositions and tendencies. For every psychiatrist who says white, the defense can pay 10 to say black. Hard evidence is the key (dna, fingerprints, blood splatter etc). There is no way that anyone can testify what a killer was thinking when he killed. Police can't use a lie detector as evidence, it's not credible. Don't use a psychiatrist, neither are they.
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