UMMS Fellowship in Forensic Psychiatry

Didactic Seminars and Other Components of the Curriculum

The didactic activities of the fellowship program center on two weekly seminars. In addition, from September through June, a faculty conference takes place every other week and is generally attended by fellows. The core didactic seminars are attended by fellows in forensic psychiatry, post-doctoral fellows in forensic psychology, residents, medical students, and visitors. This makes for a group of 10-12 people that is highly conducive to discussion.

  1. Forensic Fellowship Seminar
    The Program's main seminar is taught weekly, on Tuesday mornings (8:30-10:30), by Paul Noroian, MD, Ira K. Packer, Ph.D. (Director of Forensic Psychlogy Training Program), Thomas Grisso, Ph.D. (Director of  the Law and Psychiatry Program) Debra Pinals, MD (Director of Forensic Education) and Albert Grudzinskas, J.D. (Coordinator for the Law and Psychiatry Program). Outside speakers are often invited to present.

    The purpose of the seminar is to provide the critical empirical and theoretical foundations for specialization in forensic psychiatry and forensic psychology. The seminar focuses on reading and discussion of relevant mental health law concepts, forensic assessment methods, research on relevant psycholegal issues, and issues raised by the fellows' practical experiences. The seminar covers a wide range of forensic topics, including areas of criminal and civil forensic evaluations, juvenile evaluations, professional ethics, and psychiatric evidence and expert witness testimony. The curriculum is in accordance with ACGME requirements.

  2. Landmark Mental Health Case Law Seminar
    This seminar is taught weekly, on Tuesday afternoons, by Albert Grudzinskas, J.D. and Paul Noroian, MD, with occasional guest participants.  The seminar involves fellows in the discussion of over 100 of the most important cases in mental health law, selected by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and the course directors. In addition, during the seminar fellows review significant Massachusetts legal cases selected by the Committee for Designated Forensic Professionals. Important legal, clinical and historical issues for each case are reviewed. Through this seminar, fellows learn how to read and analyze law, and how to think about and apply mental health law and policy to practice.

  3. Summer Afternoon Educational Series
    This series is an extension of the main Fellowship Seminar. It includes special lectures on topics including the history of forensic psychiatry and ethics. During this series, fellows are also given tours of correctional, addiction, and DYS facilities across Massachusetts.

  4. Clinical and Research Seminar of the Law and Psychiatry Program
    Bi-weekly on Monday mornings, faculty of the Law and Psychiatry Program meet as a group to hear and discuss topical presentations of forensic research projects, clinical cases, and legal and systems developments relevant to Law and Psychiatry. Attendees and speakers include psychiatry fellows, post-doctoral forensic psychology fellows, faculty from the Law and Psychiatry Program and the Psychiatry Department at UMMS, community forensic mental health professionals, attorneys, judges, and visiting scholars. Fellows are expected to present their own research at this seminar sometime during the training year. A goal of this seminar for fellows is to help them attain skills related to public speaking and academic presentations. Through this seminar fellows also learn about issues relevant to law and psychiatry such as criminal and civil forensic evaluations, confidentiality, multi-system collaboration, policy development and empirical forensic research.

  5. Law and Psychiatry Case Conference Series
    This seminar provides an opportunity for trainees and faculty to discuss a variety of forensic issues raised by complex forensic cases. Forensic psychiatry fellows and post-doctoral fellows in forensic psychology each present a minimum of one case per year for review and discussion by trainees and program faculty. Case presentation topics include competence to stand trial, criminal responsibility, violence risk assessments and juvenile evaluations.

  6. Mock Trials
    During the training year, as part of the didactic series, fellows participate in one to two mock trial exercises arranged by program faculty. These may include mock trials in conjunction with local law school programs and independent fellowship mock trials. Case materials include civil and/or criminal issues. The goal of these mock trials is to help fellows improve their skills as expert witnesses with the opportunity for constructive discussion of their testimony. Mock Trial testimony is observed by faculty and constructive feedback is reviewed with each fellow.

  7. Foundations for Forensic Mental Health Practice in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
    This basic training conference is organized by UMMS Law and Psychiatry faculty on behalf of the Department of Mental Health as part of the training for psychiatrists and psychologists who do public sector forensic evaluations. Topics covered include an overview of the mental health, mental retardation, legal and correctional systems; a review of evaluations for competence to stand trial, criminal responsibility, and juvenile issues; and a review of civil commitment, violence risk assessments, multicultural considerations, report writing, and forensic ethics.

  8. Additional Training Opportunities
    In addition, to the above didactics, fellows often attend the advanced training conference for Designated Forensic Psychologists and Psychiatrists. This advanced training conference is organized by UMMS Law and Psychiatry faculty on behalf of the Department of Mental Health as part of the continuing training for Psychologists and Psychiatrists who do public sector forensic evaluations. In past years the topics covered have included issues in juvenile forensic mental health, mental illness and violence, ethical issues in forensic mental health practice, forensic mental health services and the mentally ill defendant, special issues in forensic treatment and evaluation (e.g., aid in sentencing, therapeutic jurisprudence, and mentally retarded defendants). The Law and Psychiatry Program also produces several daylong workshops for legal and mental health professionals. Fellows attend many of these workshops and sometimes make presentations at them.

    Other didactic experiences are available throughout the year. During certain rotations, fellows have the option to attend weekly Psychiatry Grand Rounds at UMMS, which may include clinical topics that are relevant for forensic work. A variety of mental health conferences arranged by the Department of Correction and the Department of Mental Health are also available to fellows during some years.


  9. Teaching Opportunities
    Fellows are given opportunities to teach residents, medical students and other students periodically throughout the training year. In addition, fellows may have opportunities to provide training to law enforcement and court personnel.

  10. Additional opportunities
    During the training year fellows are encouraged to attend the annual meeting of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law and are given an educational stipend which may be used to support this endeavor.

    Applicants seeking answers to questions about the program not addressed here may wish to contact:


    Paul Noroian M.D.
    Director, Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship
    Phone: (508) 368 - 3573