Monday, June 7, 2010

psychiatry is an ass

"If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, "the law is an ass---an idiot." (Charles Dickens-Oliver Twist)

In the case I am about to cite, and quote verbatim from headlines of the June 5, 2010 issue of the St Petersburg Times, the law is an ass or worse. My experience with psychiatrists in forty three years of practicing law taught me they are just the opposite of the Hippocratic oath they took: "first do no harm." I was no "sit in the office and notarize papers or talk to high falutin' corporate clients". I was in the trenches, representing people in court, going to their homes and work sites, helping those who couldn't help themselves. So I have seen life and the law from the bottom up.

I asked "what is man?" After ruminating on this a bit, "Dr." Curtis Steele, a Baton Rouge shrink, said "an isolated and random occurrence in a chaotic universe." In other words, an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters would eventually type the U S Constitution. An accident. Here goes the article. Decide for yourself who is the ass.

The state used him to defend its ban on gay adoptions, despite attorney's objections.

TALLAHASSEE: Disgraced psychologist George Rekers was labeled a "right-wing, religious-based" expert witness and rejected for months by state attorneys defending Florida's gay adoption ban.
But when they couldn't find anyone else to replace him on the witness stand, Attorney General Bill McCollum overuled his trial attorneys, quickly hired Rekers, and paid him his agreed upon contract with no questions asked, according to documents released this week by McCollum's office.
Rekers, a psychiatry professor at the University of South Carolina has been stripped of his credibility after reports surfaced that he hired a male escort from to give him nude "sexual" massages and accompany him on a recent European vacation.
The adoption ban has been ruled unconstitutional and the state is appealing. The state paid Rekers more than $120,000 to testify on the "negative effects" of gay parenting. (comment: go figure)
Rekers' fee was almost a third of what the state has spent on the gay adoption ban lawsuit to date--$383,000. Half the cost has gone to attorney's fees; the rest to general expenses, including $120,000 to Rekers.
Meanwhile, records obtained by St. Petersburg Times and the Miami Herald show that despite repeated objections from the Department of Children and Families, the attorney general agreed to advance Rekers $60,900 to get him to take the case and another $59,700 a year later as the case dragged on.
The payments included $9,000 for 30 hours of searching journal articles and books, $27,000 to "read the relevant publications since Sept 2004 and evaluate and critique the "methodological quality". A year later he charged nearly 30 hours for reading the same materials again.
McCollum said he wouldn't hire Rekers again knowing what he knows today, but he defends the expense. "The only problem we had was the expert, and the amount of money, and the credibility of the expert" Bob Butterworth, the then Secretary of the agency said.
McCollum's staff asked for the first check to be expedited because they feared losing him before their deadline to submit the expert witness list.
Rekers asked for the money up front so that his fees would not be contested, as had happened in previous cases in which he testified. McCollum said he was aware that Rekers was not considered as credible in Arkansas as he had been in a previous case in which he was used in Florida, "but he was qualified. There was never any dispute over his qualifications."
Hannah, the Attorney General handling the case, acknowledged they hired Rekers to bolster their case."If you haven't hired the experts to help you win the case, then you're bot doing the job. You can't sit and rationalize over the expert or later even over his personal life," she said.

I have seen some really insane things happen in court, but this takes the cake.

I had a childlike faith that the law would always be based on reason and the truth would eventually be revealed. It was the catalyst of two opposing elements, forming during and as a result of the conflict, the truth. Not!

The American legal court system works well enough, in spite of the fact that the courts accept experts to give opinions to bolster the position of one side or the other, and the only expertise accepted by the courts in the area of mental problems are the psychiatrists who haven't a clue. All experts are paid for their opinions. The court or jury will buy one over the other, based on varied criteria---from personality to the number of degrees and certificates held to the amount of statistics that can be rattled off convincingly. Many times it was a race between the other lawyer and I to get to a particular expert because he was good. He usually managed to rationalize my position over the other side. Many are what may be referred to as whores. Some are honest, and credible. But if you want to win your case, do you really want to know the implicit truth? That is why they say lawyers all go to hell. I didn't play that game during the last twenty five years of my practice. And there are some good lawyers who won't play that game either. The idea is to seek them out if you wish. Most people want a junk yard dog when it comes to taking a case to court. And the lawyer makes the moral decisions on how to prosecute the case.

Rekers is a good representative of and just a speck in the mass of nastiness that is psychiatry. But he will survive, believe it or not, and continue to keep his license and continue to "do harm" wherever he goes.

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