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Legal Theory and Application

Argosy University Comprehensive Examination
MA Forensic Psychology
NT 7.19.2018
(Thursday, August 2, 2018 –Wednesday, August 8, 2018)
Proposed Case Vignette for Comprehensive Examination
Please read the vignette carefully. Based on information provided in the vignette, please compose a well-written and organized response to each of the questions that follow:
Interviewing and Background Information
Family of Origin:
Mr. Jones is a 27-year-old self-reported Asian male who was born in Chicago, Illinois. He stated his mother died a year ago. When Mr. Jones was question as to how his mother passed away, Mr. Jones stated “I do not want to talk about that right now. Rest my mother’s spirit, she died young. But I will say she was one of the hardest working people I knew. Some might say it was a shame my mother had the nerves to have eight kids by several different Johns, as they call them today as a sex worker. Guess what though, my mother never received government assistance and never allowed us to live in poverty. She did her business on the Westside of the city and provided a home for us on the Southside……anything we needed she provided it….” Mr. Jones stated he never met is father nor does he have information about his father. He reported having 7 siblings (2-brothers, 5-sisters). Mr. Jones is the second oldest of his siblings and indicated that he feels supported by each of them. He stated that his relationship with his siblings is “….very close…..we grew up together… we are all we got.” Mr. Jones stated that while he was growing up his mother treated him “good… my mother did the best she could… there is eight of us so I had to find my way in life.” Mr. Jones described his family as “loving, supportive, respectful, helpful… don’t get me wrong, we had our problems, all families do… but we always stuck together….my friends would call us the Rainbow Family of Ms. Chen due to my mother being Asian and my siblings and I having different colored skin from each other ….they can say what they want at the end of the day nothing like family and I would not trade them if I could….most people don’t know anything about that…”
Mr. Jones stated he has resided in the “Chicago area” for most of all my life.” Mr. Jones formerly resided in Niles, Illinois (from approximately 2014-2016).  He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois with his younger sister in his mother’s house.
Social History:
It was reported by Mr. Jones that he had 2-3 close friends as a child. He indicated that he spent more time with his siblings than his friends, further stating that his mother used to joke about him having enough brothers and sisters that he did not need friends. Despite this, Mr. Jones stated he was “very popular” in school. He reported he “used to go to the movies, roller skate, [and have] sleepovers for fun with his friends.” Mr. Jones also stated “my friends and I did not get in trouble together as I always did that on my own.” He stated he did not experience bullying as a child and specifically stated he did not bully others either.
Mr. Jones described his friendships as an adult to be “loving, peaceful, caring, [and] happy,” further indicating that he has friends outside of his siblings. He reported that he and his friends cook, go to the movies, go out to eat, spend time at each other’s houses, and “go to clubs” (prior to his court involvement) for fun. Mr. Jones stated his friendships are “I guess the same as when I was a kid,” further describing he is still close with his friends from childhood. When asked about how he generally feels about other people, Mr. Jones stated, “I don’t judge people. You treat me right, I’ll treat you right. I’m not a judgmental person.” He reported spending most of his time with his children and his younger sister, Claire doing “mostly everything they need for me to do for them.”
With regards to romantic relationships, he reported his relationships have been “good” with “no abuse.” He reported having a previous relationship and being married to Sarah, indicating further they met through a mutual friend. Their relationship reportedly ended because she “found some other piece of ****.” They were married in 2015 and have been divorced since 2016. Mr. Jones reported they have 2- daughters (ages 4 and 3). He is currently in a relationship with Eleanor, describing they met through Mr. Jones’ older brother and have been together since his divorce from Sarah. He described Eleanor as being: “peaceful, loving, caring, understanding, [and] joyful.”
Educational History:
Mr. Jones reported reaching general developmental milestones within normal limits. He related that school was hard for him and explained that he participated in “LD and BD” classes (learning disorder and behavior disorder). Mr. Jones stated, “… I was a D and F student in the beginning of my schooling career” and indicated that his grades improved overtime. He attributed this to his dyslexic and not being diagnosed until he was almost in the 8th grade. Mr. Jones indicated he had another learning disorder but could not remember the name. Mr. Jones graduated and received his high school diploma in 2008. He reported receiving detention several times for running in the hallways and talking out loud but specified that none were for fighting.
Employment History:
Mr. Jones provided a history of gainful employment. He reported his relationships with his coworkers to be “real good.” Previously, Mr. Jones worked as an investment banker assistant in Niles, Illinois for approximately four years.  Mr. Jones stated he was terminated due to “numerous calls-offs ….well some days I just could not make it in from Chicago…… I had to move back with my mother after Sarah left.” He then worked as a financial assistant for a large corporation in Chicago until he was laid off in March 2018.
Substance Use/Abuse History:
Mr. Jones reported a history of minimal alcohol use starting at age 22, stating, “I don’t like it.” He related that he does not normally drink and that the most he has ever consumed was “not even half of a cup.” Mr. Jones endorsed a history of illegal drug use, identifying marijuana as his drug of choice. He reported his marijuana use began when he was 17 years old and that he smoked “all day, every day.” His last reported use of marijuana was “a year a so ago.” He indicated that it was “not hard to stop [smoking marijuana.]” Mr. Jones reported two previous attempts at staying sober. He reported his first attempt was 5 years ago. His last attempt was 11-12 months ago, where he received out-patient substance abuse treatment for marijuana use. Mr. Jones stated, “My brother and I talked after our mother passed away and we both agreed we needed to step it up and anything that might hinder us let it go. So, hey no weed for me…we have to pick-up where our mother left off.” With regards to family use of drugs and alcohol, Mr. Jones reported that his older brother is an “alcoholic, a functioning one though.”
Mental Health History:
Mr. Jones denied the presence of mental health issues within his family. He indicated that he previously received mental health counseling when he was 14 years old. Mr. Jones stated he “doesn’t remember much about it.” Mr. Jones also reported he was psychiatrically hospitalized at a hospital in Chicago, Illinois one time and estimated that this occurred when he was about 12 or 13 years old. Mr. Jones reported being unable to remember why he was hospitalized but remembers being there. Further, Mr. Jones could not recall if he was diagnosed with a mental disorder. He denied being prescribed medication.
He endorsed experiencing symptoms such as frequent mood swings. He indicated that he was irritable when he was not “smoking weed” and often “spaced out.” Mr. Jones indicated that he will experience a “180 change” instantly and that this will happen randomly during his periods of both using and not using marijuana.  He endorsed experiencing “highs and lows quickly” and feeling “hyper,” stating that this has been occurring “a lot” since he was about 12 years of age “lasting for hours to sometimes days.” “When asked about periods of irritability, Mr. Jones stated “there’s always a reason why I am upset… someone had to do something to make me mad.” He described himself to be “irritated” during these periods, stating he did not want to be bothered [by other people] and preferred to be by himself. Mr. Jones stated he used marijuana during these periods “to help me calm down…it works…I have never been in a fight. He stated he would be irritable for “hours… until I came down off the madness.” Per Mr. Jones, these periods of irritability occurred randomly and often, similar to the periods of feeling “hyper.” Mr. Jones indicated his self-esteem was high during these periods and he felt more confident than usual. He denied experiencing any symptoms of depression and anxiety. Also Mr. Jones denied experiencing symptoms of a perceptual disturbance. With regards to speech, Mr. Jones stated “I talk anyway,” expressing he did not feel pressure to talk constantly or faster than normal. Mr. Jones denied current and previous suicidal and homicidal ideations at the time of his assessment, specifically stating, “No, that’s not an option.”
Mr. Jones denied experiencing or witnessing an event that he considered to be traumatic or distressing.
Abuse History/DCFS Involvement:
Mr. Jones denied ever having been abused but reported a positive history for DCFS involvement. Per Mr. Jones, when he was 15 years old, he was involved in DCFS. When queried further about the situation, Mr. Jones stated, “Basically because I didn’t want to listen to nothing my mom had to say… I wanted to be grown and do things on my own, but it was not like they took me from her or anything. They did an investigation and pop-ups to the house, you know.”
Medical History:
Mr. Jones denied a history of head injuries and endorsed a history of asthma and a heart murmur. He denied having a serious illness that required hospitalization. Mr. Jones reported that he is prescribed the inhalant medication, Albuterol, for his asthma by his medical doctor. He is also prescribed another medication of which he cannot remember the name. Despite this, Mr. Jones reported that he takes each of his medications as directed. He also reportedly has medical insurance and would seek a doctor if necessary. Mr. Jones denied any reports of a positive family medical history.
Legal History:
Mr. Jones reported on May 22, 2018 he was charged with a Possession of a Controlled Substance, specifically MFG/DEL 1<15 GR COCAINE/ANLG, Class 1 felony offense. Mr. Jones reported this is his first and only experience with the law. He stated the following as his version of the offense: “Okay so I am in the Chicago area meeting up with some friends. And we are walking around Buckingham Fountain and just kind of goofing around. We were like walking around and whatever. And then I don’t know… we sort of got into this weird semi- fight with this other group of dudes. I got pushed around a little. And I guess someone called the cops and we all got searched. And they found some cocaine in my coat pocket.” When queried further about why Mr. Jones had cocaine in his pocket, he stated, “Well I have been having a hard time paying some bills and I needed some cash, so I was trying to sell it to a friend or someone. I just really needed some extra cash. I wasn’t doing it myself. I promise.”
Mr. Jones denied having a gang affiliation history.
Behavioral Observations & Mental Status:
Mr. Jones’ first scheduled assessment appointment was scheduled for July 9, 2018 at 10:00AM. He did not arrive to this appointment and did not contact the evaluator to reschedule the appointment. Mr. Jones’ appointment was re-scheduled by our office for July 16, 2018 at 9:30AM to which Jones arrived 45 minutes late. When he arrived, Mr. Jones was dressed casually and appropriately for the weather and was cooperative throughout his evaluation. His gait appeared steady and his body movements were fluid. He presented with adequate hygiene and was dressed casually. Mr. Jones’ mood and affect were congruent throughout the assessment. He was oriented to time, place, person and situation. His thought processing appeared coherent and emotional distress was absent. Mr. Jones did not appear to be reacting to internal stimuli. At the time of the evaluation, Mr. Jones denied current and previous suicidal and homicidal ideations. Mr. Jones was overall responsive to directives and required no clarification or assistance. Mr. Jones appeared to possess sufficient literacy skills and completed the interview with satisfactory effort. Mr. Jones’ energy level was adequate. His speech and expressive and receptive language skills were unremarkable.
Task Identification:
You are the forensic case manager being asked to conduct a pre-trial evaluation with recommended services and referrals as needed. You are to act as a forensic mental health evaluator and produce a written case report addressing the questions below. The report will be submitted to the appropriate supervisor and to the judge.
Based on the vignette provided, please compose a well-written and organized response to each of the following questions. When writing your responses, please:

  • Use APA (6th edition) Style,      with 1-inch margins, double-spaced, 12 font, with a reference list at the      end.
  • Write clearly and concisely.
  • Cite appropriate, and      especially current, literature (empirical and/or theoretical).
  • Avoid all sexist idioms and      allusions.
  • Remember to demonstrate your      multicultural competence where appropriate.

Psychological Theory and Practice

  1. What assessments would you conduct to      enhance your understanding of the problems of the person in the vignette      and how would your choice of assessment(s) inform your diagnostic      formation and treatment planning? Assessments may include structured or      unstructured interviews, valid and reliable assessment measures, and/or      formalized assessment procedures that may be conducted by yourself or by      someone else referred by you. 
  2. Provide your      diagnostic impressions (based on the DSM-5) for this individual. In      narrative form, please describe how the individual meets the diagnostic      criteria for the disorder(s) chosen in addition to the differential      diagnostic thought process that you used to reach your hypotheses. Be sure      to include any additional (missing) information that is needed to either      rule out or confirm your differential diagnoses impressions.

Legal Theory and Application

  1. Explain the background, current      presentation, and behavior of the person in the vignette utilizing      biological, learning, and social theories on offenders to support your      position. Do not simply restate the background information from the      vignette. Instead, provide a theoretically-based discussion to understand      the criminal behaviors of the person in the vignette.
  2. Consider the      type of crime in the vignette and discuss how that type of crime generally      impacts a victim of it. Do not      limit yourself to discussing just the victim in this vignette. Instead obtain scholarly sources for      information on how this type of crime can affect any victim, their family      members, and other members of society. 
  3. Describe the      psycholegal standards and/or definitions for each of the following:      competence to stand trial, duty to warn, and insanity. Identify and      describe one or more landmark case(s) for each standard (at least three      cases total). Describe the elements or issues that a mental health      professional usually focuses on when assessing a person’s adjudicative      competence, risk and insanity, and any additional items that might be      especially important to focus on in the provided vignette.

Assessment, Research and Evaluation

  1. Describe      tests or assessment procedures you would employ to address the psycholegal      issues of (competence to stand trial, risk of dangerousness, and      insanity). You may refer to these from the Psychological Theory and      Assessment Section “A” if you already covered them there.       Discuss what the anticipated conclusions would be based upon information      provided in the vignette. 
  2. Develop a      research question and a testable research hypothesis regarding offenders      or the type of crime that is discussed in the vignette (such as,      addiction, recidivism, criminal behavior, etc.). Explain the variables in your question      and the type of research study that could answer your question as well as      why that research would make a contribution to the field of forensic      psychology.

Leadership, Consultation, and Ethics
A. What are the ethical and legal dilemmas this vignette introduced? What would be your immediate steps and why? Please be specific and make sure that you describe your process of ethical decision making and the solutions/consequences to which this process might lead. Your discussion should be informed by the American Psychological Association’s Ethics Code as well as the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychologists.
Interpersonal Effectiveness
A. What diversity factors, cultural considerations, or other demographic variables pertaining to the person in the vignette would you take into account in rendering diagnoses, choosing assessment measures, forming case conceptualizations, and designing the treatment plan?  Be sure to discuss cultural/diversity factors that could apply even if they are not explicitly mentioned in the vignette.
B. Your writing, use of citations, ability to form a logical argument, and proper APA Style, including the use of paraphrasing, will be evaluated as a measure of your interpersonal effectiveness. No response is required for “B”. 


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