UMMS Fellowship in Law and Psychiatry

Faculty Resources

Need some empirical information about a legal or ethical question in psychiatry? Looking for research-based evidence on the value of assessment or treatment methods in forensic psychiatry or psychology? Are you interested in taking on a legally-relevant research topic?

We have prepared the following list of Law and Psychiatry faculty and their research interests in order to assist medical students, psychiatry residents, psychiatry and psychology fellows, and faculty who sometimes wish to obtain information about research topics in Law and Psychiatry. The list provides brief sketches of the research interests of our training and research faculty in the Law and Psychiatry Program as of 2001, as well as their phone numbers. Any of them would welcome scheduling a time with you to talk about your interests in forensic research, mental health and law, or legal/ethical issues in mental health practice.

Thomas Grisso, Ph.D., Director, Law and Psychiatry

Dr. Thomas Grisso (ext. 63625) has specialized interests in forensic issues in juvenile justice. His most recent and current research projects focus on (a) competence of juveniles in the adjudicative process (that is, youths' competence to stand trial), (b) identification and response to mental health needs of youths in the juvenile justice system, and (c) competence to consent to treatment among adults with mental disorders.

Dr. Jeffrey Geller (ext. 66527) has special research interests in the laws and system variables that influence the public sector provision of mental health services to persons with mental disorder. He is also specialized in research on pathological firesetting, and on the history and dynamics of the evolution of mental health and forensic services in the public sector.

Dr. Debra Pinals  has specialized interests in forensic mental health treatment, informed consent, and issues related to criminal responsibility and criminal competence restoration, including the relevance of new drug development in the treatment of forensic patients. She also is interested in areas related to forensic service delivery and the role of mental health professionals in training, communicating with and evaluating law enforcement officers.

Dr. Charles Lidz (ext 68716) has three primary research interests. The first concerns violence involving people with mental illness. Two current research projects are on-going. One involves intensive interviews with both parties involved in the violent incident seeking to generate a detailed description of those incidents. Another involves 26 weekly follow-ups of 135 people who are predicted to be likely to be frequently violent. Other current research includes a project on informed consent to research and an effort to develop a scale of perceived coercion for patients in community care.

Dr. William Fisher (ext. 68711) has research interests in the structure and function of mental health services. Much of his research has focused on mental health services to forensic populations, including systems for delivery of forensic evaluations for the courts, the criminal court involvement of persons who are clients of the public mental health system, and systems issues in the provision of mental health services to forensic patients.

Mr. Albert Grudzinskas (ext.68719) is the Law and Psychiatry Program's lawyer. His interests focus on legal issues associated with juvenile justice, issues relating to treatment coercion, and the presentation of forensic mental health evidence before courts. His most recent research projects focus on (a) the transition of juveniles with serious emotional disturbance to various adult systems, (b) the impact of truth in sentencing legislation and the decline of parole on persons with mental illness, and (c) competence to proceed in civil and criminal settings.

Dr. Ira Packer (ext. 65957) has research interests in the structure and function of mental health services, as well as issues in correctional psychology and psychiatry. He brings special expertise to legally-relevant research questions on systems dynamics associated with mental health service delivery to forensic populations as a consequence of his public sector administrative experience with these issues.

Dr. Maryann Davis (ext. 68718) has special research interests in the developmental transition from adolescence to adulthood among adolescents with psychiatric disorders involved in public children's systems, including the juvenile justice system. Her most recent research project focuses on describing the official corrections involvement from childhood through young adulthood, and predictive factors of that involvement among individuals who received 'deep end' public adolescent psychiatric services.

Dr. Gina Vincent (ext. 68727) has interests in juvenile justice and adult forensic populations, particularly with respect to policy research, risk assessment and psychopathy. Current projects involve screening for mental health problems in juvenile justice setting with the Massachusetts Youth Screening Inventory, developing an assessment system for adjudicative competence in juveniles, early identification of psychopathic personality disorder, violence risk assessment, and sexual offender risk assessment.