Jean-Claude Archambault

Psychiatric Evaluation Publication date : April 13, 2012

Doctor Archambault is a physician, psychiatrist, and psychiatric expert at the Paris Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of Appeal and the International Criminal Court. He is the vice president of the Conseil National des Compagnies d’Experts Judiciaires.

Since psychiatric experts come into direct contact with delinquents and criminals, they are simultaneously aware of their wrongdoing and of their humanity.
Criminal acts cannot always be explained, since they often arise from far-away archaic depths which can scarcely by verbalised. One of the roles of psychiatric experts is to transmit in words a fragment of the defendant’s truth and humanity, without ignoring the core of their own task: the psychiatric assessment of the defendant’s responsibility and potential threat to society.
The role of psychiatric experts in criminal and civil lawsuits has grown in importance — while at the same time coming increasingly under fire. After the scandalous Outreau trial, legal experts criticised the existing judicial methodology as “vague” and its goals as dictated by borderline security concerns. How does psychiatric evaluation intervene in a trial?
Drawing on psychiatric evaluations from several criminal cases, the author reviews a number of important — and controversial — issues: violence, legal irresponsibility, repeat-offenders, treatment assigned by court order.

• Understanding the place of psychiatric evaluation in the judicial process: role, goals, task summary.
• How to evaluate and assess what does (or does not) derive from mental disorders.