20 Hours | 20 CEs

This self-paced training program on Best Practices in the Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial is presented by Patricia A. Zapf, PhD.

One of the primary foundations of criminal law is that all defendants have a right to a fair trial. Towards this end, upwards of 60,000 evaluations of competency to stand trial are conducted annually in the USA. Research has shown that the opinion of the evaluator in these evaluations is accepted by the courts upwards of 95% of the time. Thus, it is imperative that these evaluations be conducted using best practices. Two important sources have recently been recognized as setting the foundation for best practices in competency evaluation. This training program provides a strong foundation for South Dakota evaluators who conduct adjudicative competency evaluations of adults. This training was developed for the South Dakota Unified Judicial System and the South Dakota Department of Social Services.  

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Describe important legal cases that deal with issues relevant to the interpretation adjudicative competence standards and statutes

  • Describe the developments in the conceptualization of the Dusky Standard

  • Describe the research on evaluations of adjudicative competence

  • Describe theoretical issues in competency evaluation

  • Describe the most recent clinical guidance on competency evaluation

  • Describe the administration procedures for various competency assessment instruments

  • Describe the psychometric properties of CAIs

  • Describe the process for case and opinion formulation

  • Describe the process of communicating opinions regarding criminal competence

  • Describe required, appropriate, and inappropriate report contents


  • 1


    • Review Before Proceeding

  • 2

    Foundational Aspects of Forensic Mental Health Assessment

    • Lesson 1 Video

    • Heilburn & LaDuke 2015

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 3

    The Legal Context

    • Lesson 2 Video

    • The Legal Context

    • AAPL-CST Guidelines

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 4

    South Dakota CST Statutes and Procedures

    • Lesson 3 Video

  • 5

    Forensic Mental Health Concepts

    • Lesson 4 Video

    • Forensic Mental Health Concepts

    • Attorney CST Questionnaire

    • Philipsborn (2004)

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 6

    Empirical Foundations and Limits

    • Lesson 5 Video

    • Empirical Foundations and Limits

    • Interdisciplinary Fitness Interview Manual

    • Pirelli, Gottdeiner & Zapf (2011)

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 7

    Preparation for the Evaluation

    • Lesson 6 Video

    • Preparation for the Evaluation

    • Competence Related Domains & Areas of Inquiry

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 8

    Competency Assessment Instruments

    • Lesson 7 Video

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 9

    Data Collection

    • Lesson 8 Video

    • Data Collection

    • Forensic Evaluation Outline Form

    • Types of Third Party/Collateral Information

    • Sources of Third Party/Collateral Information

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 10


    • Lesson 9 Video

    • Interpretation

    • Competency Related Domains and Areas of Inquiry

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 11

    Report Writing & Testimony

    • Lesson 10 Video

    • Report Writing & Testimony

    • Grisso (2010)

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 12

    Advanced Formulation

    • Lesson 11 Video

    • Maroney (2006)

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 13

    Intellectually Disabled Defendants

    • Lesson 12 Video

    • Salekin, Olley & Hedge (2010)

    • Kalbeitzer & Benedetti (2009)

    • Noffsinger (2001)

    • Sample Forensic Evaluation Report

    • AAPL-CST Guidelines

    • Lesson Quiz

  • 14

    Course Evaluation

    • Course Evaluation

Presented By

Dr. Patricia Zapf

Patricia A. Zapf, PhD

Patricia A. Zapf, Ph.D. is Vice President for Continuing & Professional Studies at Palo Alto University (PAU). Prior to coming to PAU she was a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY) for 16 years, during which time she was instrumental in the development of a new doctoral program in clinical psychology with an emphasis in forensic psychology and served as the program’s first Director of Clinical Training. Prior to her time at CUNY, she was on the psychology and law faculty at the University of Alabama. In 2009, Dr. Zapf founded CONCEPT Professional Training with the mission of elevating the level of practice in psychology and related professions.

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