Chris Slobogin receives two Distinguished Contribution Awards in Forensic Psychology

Mar 15, 2016

Professor Christopher SloboginChristopher Slobogin, Vanderbilt’s Milton R. Underwood Chair in Law and Affiliate Professor of Psychiatry, has received both the 2016 Distinguished Contribution to Law and Psychology award from the American Psychology-Law Society and the 2016 Distinguished Contribution to Forensic Psychology Award from the American Board of Forensic Psychology.

Both awards were presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychology-Law Society, which was held in Atlanta March 11 and 12.

Slobogin is one of only five law professors or lawyers to receive either of these prestigious awards, both of which have been honoring individuals for their contributions to the field of psychology and law for over 30 years. No law professor or lawyer has received both awards, nor has anyone received both awards in the same year.

Slobogin is the third lawyer among 15 previous recipients to be honored with the American Psychology-Law Society’s Distinguished Contribution to Psychology and Law Award; the others included Justice Harry Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court and Laurens Walker, a University of Virginia law professor. Slobogin’s award presentation, which he gave with co-honoree Kirk Heilbrun, addressed his work as chair of the American Bar Association’s task force on mental disability and criminal justice.

Slobogin is also the third lawyer to receive the American Academy of Forensic Psychology’s Distinguished Contribution. In his presentation for this award, he applied the principles of preventive justice he developed in his book Juveniles at Risk: A Plea for Preventive Justice (coauthored with Mark Fondacaro, Oxford University Press, 2011) to the adult context.

Slobogin is one of the authors of Psychological Evaluations for the Court, which won the Behavioral Science Book Award when first published and is now considered a standard-bearer in forensic mental health. In addition to Juveniles at Risk, other books he has authored dealing with law and psychology include Proving the Unprovable: The Role of Law, Science and Speculation in Adjudicating Culpability and Dangerousness (OUP, 2007), and Minding Justice: Laws that Deprive People with Mental Disability of Life and Liberty (Harvard University Press, 2006).

One of the five most cited scholars of criminal law and criminal procedure and among the top 50 most cited law professors in the country according to Hein Online, Slobogin has published over 100 articles and chapters. Over 50 of these works have addressed issues relating to psychology and law, and have appeared in a number of peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journals as well as the Chicago, Northwestern, Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt and Virginia law reviews, among many others.

His book Minding Justice was hailed by reviewers as “a tour de force on issues concerning interventions into the lives of those with mental illness” and a “superb example of interdisciplinary scholarship, combining philosophical, legal, and clinical insights in a new synthesis.” A reviewer described Proving the Unprovable as an “insightful, readable, and persuasive argument for a liberal approach to clinical mental health testimony.” Another stated that “In Proving the Unprovable, Professor Slobogin has done the undoable: he has produced a probing critique of the legal rules for admitting expert mental health testimony that had me turning the pages as if it were a suspense novel.” Juveniles at Risk, a prominent forensic psychologist stated, “is sure to revolutionize legal thinking about juvenile justice.”

In addition to his scholarship, Slobogin has actively participated in policy-making in the law and psychology field. He has served as reporter for the American Bar Association’s Task Force on the Insanity Defense and for the ABA’s Task Force on Mental Disability and the Death Penalty. He also currently chairs the ABA’s Task Force charged with revising the Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards, which has produced over 100 pages of black-letter standards governing competency, insanity, sentencing and related issues. He annually trains mental health professionals about mental health law in both three-day and one-day sessions. He also serves on the editorial boards of the journals Law & Human Behavior, Behavioral Science & Law and Psychology, Public Policy & the Law.

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