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The Forensic Evaluation

Note, not every forensic evaluation will include all of the components listed below. The evaluator must use his or her judgment regarding the omission of any of the components.

The forensic evaluation begins with contact by the referring individual or agency. This most commonly begin as most commonly as a phone call or a letter. It is import to realize that the contact is made by a person who wants a favorable opinion for their side so it is important to not be unduly influenced by the material initially presented. If the issue is one in which the evaluator possesses expertise, it is important to have a formal retainer agreement completed which clearly specifies the conditions of retention and requests written confirmation of the questions to be answered by the evaluation. All important documents should be obtained including all the legal pleadings.

If an evaluation of the litigant is performed, the evaluator must ethically inform the examinee that they are an independent evaluator and that they are paid for their time and not paid for a particular opinion, the limits of confidentially, and that no treatment relationship exists. The examinee has the right to not answer questions, to take a break when they feel necessary and to be treated with respect and courtesy.

There is no standard format for the forensic evaluation. The areas covered depends on the type of litigation and the questions to be answered. The evaluation however should be comprehensive and generally requires several hours. The evaluator should always consider that the individual being examined presents the information with their own bias and needs and that the possibility of distortion exists. There should be a methodology for detecting possible distortion.

A report will then be given either verbally and/or written depending on the preference of the retaining party. All written material including emails generated by the forensic evaluator is discoverable and should be retained.