Under current law, a psychiatrist must be used in any criminal cases involving an insanity defense. SB 88 provides that in insanity hearings not involving a homicide, the court shall appoint two or three competent and disinterested:
• Psychologists endorsed by the State Psychology Board; or
• Physicians who have expertise in determining insanity, at least one of whom must be a psychiatrist or psychologist.
“The court system generally prefers a psychiatrist, however availability has become an issue,” said Rep. Bacon. “By allowing psychologists to do this work, we will make the judicial process more efficient and expeditious. This will also reduce local expenditures by reducing the amount of time a defendant, who utilizes an insanity defense, spends in jail while the court looks to appoint a psychiatrist.”
In insanity hearings that do involve a homicide the court will have the same criterion by which to appoint mental health experts, however in this case, when appointing physicians who have expertise in determining insanity, at least one of them must be a psychiatrist and at least one of them must be a psychologist.
The bill will now go back to the Senate for concurrence because it was amended in the House.