Case Study One Worksheet
Respond to the following questions in 1,250 to 1,500 words.
Why is this an ethical dilemma? Which APA Ethical Principles help frame the nature of the dilemma?
With this case study Dr. Ramaro is unsure of the ability he has in saying that John can be considered mentally unstable and unfit for the death penalty. With no prior record of his childhood that states that John had a learning disability or a previous mental retardation claim than it is difficult for him to put that label on him now during the trial. Principal D Justice makes it difficult in this dilemma. With his feelings of the death penalty it can make it difficult for him to claim someone is fit for the death penalty which would go against his ethical beliefs. Also Dr. Ramaro is unsure whether or not he should include in the confession of him killing the Guard and the young boy at the bus stop. With it being on trial is there a confidentiality agreement between John and Dr. Ramaro, or is he obligated to include this in the report. All of this makes this scenario an ethical dilemma.
How might Dr. Romaro’s ambivalence toward the death penalty influence his decision to offer a forensic diagnosis of intellectual disability? How might John’s “confession” or his comment about the “boy waiting for the bus” influence the decision? To what extent should these factors play a role in Dr. Romaro’s report?
None of these factors should play a role in this decision, Dr. Romaro clearly has mixed feelings for the death penalty but this is not what the court is asking of Dr. Romaro. The court is asking Dr. Romaro for him to determine whether or not John is mentally aware to not only stand trial but be eligible for the death penalty. The confession should also not change the job that Dr. Romaro is doing, it can play a role in helping to determine his mental capability because obviously John is aware that he killed the guard even though he is claiming innocence but he is also aware that he killed a young boy as well. The confession can play a large role in Dr. Romaro determining whether or not John is mentally capable or mentally aware of what he did, because of the confession this should play a role in the determination of his mental ability. Asking God for forgiveness for what he has done shows an acknowledgment of sorts to show how aware he is of what he has done. It is not Dr. Romaro’s role to determine guilt or innocence but rather his mental ability to be fully aware of what he did, and the confession on John’s own accord can help in the determination of it but should not be the only variable considered when determining John’s mental ability for the death penalty. The little amount of evidence in Johns childhood combined with the confession should be considered to support the death penalty for John. This evidence can be used against John’s appeal of the death penalty.
How are APA Ethical Standards 2.0f, 3.06, 4.04, 4.05, 5.01, 9.01a and 9.06 relevant to this case? Which other standards might apply?
With APA ethical standards 2.0f that states: “When assuming forensic roles, psychologists are or become reasonably familiar with the judicial or administrative rules governing their roles” (Fisher, 2013), it is important for Dr. Ramaro to understand his role in this case. Yes, he heard a confession of the killing but this is not Dr. Ramaro’s responsibility to determine an innocence or guilty verdict. He is there to use the evidence and history of John to determine the mental capacity of John and whether the death penalty is applicable to John.
With APA ethical Standard 3.06 that states “Psychologists refrain from taking on a professional role when personal, scientific, professional, legal, financial, or other interests or relationships could reasonably be expected to (1) impair their objectivity, competence, or effectiveness in performing their functions as psychologists or (2) expose the person or organization with whom the professional relationship exists to harm or exploitation” (Fisher, 2013), this pertains to Dr. Ramaro specifically with his feelings of the death penalty. If he feels as though he cannot take on this case professionally and unbiased than it is his responsibility to not give a determination on John’s mental status because of his feelings of the death penalty.
With APA Ethical Standard 4.04 that states “Psychologists include in written and oral reports and consultations, only information germane to the purpose for which the communication is made. Psychologists discuss confidential information obtained in their work only for appropriate scientific or professional purposes and only with persons clearly concerned with such matters” (Fisher, 2013). This pertains to this case specifically with the confession that John made during his panic attack, he is responsible to inform the court of this confession due to his responsibility to this particular case.
With APA Ethical Standard 4.05 that states “Psychologists may disclose confidential information with the appropriate consent of the organizational client, the individual client/patient, or another legally authorized person on behalf of the client/patient unless prohibited by law” (Fisher, 2013). This standard also gives more clarification of when it is ok to disclose confidential matter and in this case it would be considered appropriate to tell the court of the confession due to the fact that it is keeping others from harm that John could also kill if given another opportunity. This confession proves that he is a killer and has killed in the past and should be considered dangerous and can be considered a danger to society.
With APA Ethical Standard 5.01 that pertains to avoidance of false or deceptive statements is not yet in play but could be depending on how Dr. Ramaro reports his findings on John. If he lets his personal feelings of the death penalty affect his report than he would be in direct violation of this standard.
With APA Ethical Standard 9.01a that is Bases for Assessments and how psychologists should base their opinions in their recommendations or reports on the information and techniques sufficient to substantiate their findings. In this case Dr. Ramaro can go off of the history of John and the lack of evidence directing to mental inability and also based off of the confession that was made directly by John as well.
With APA Ethical Standard 9.06 that is Interpreting Assessment Results and taking into consideration a variety of factors when interpreting results. In this case John was having a panic attack when the confession was made; he was not asked about the killing but rather asked for forgiveness from God during the confession. Looking at John’s history as well as the confession should both be consider when interpreting the results that Dr. Ramaro finds.
What steps should Dr. Romaro take to ethically implement his decision and monitor its effect?
Following all APA standards and ethical rules Dr. Romaro can assess all the information and results with John and his childhood history and the confession that John gave freely should be taken into consideration. Dr. Romaro should maintain integrity in his tests and not allow his personal feelings on the death penalty to sway his report to the court. Leave out all assumptions and merely report the facts and allow the court to determine innocence or guilty. With all of the results from his tests he can then make an ethical decision and if all standards and rules are adhered Dr. Ramon can confidently make a decision and allow the court to determine John’s outcome.
Fisher, C. B. (2013). Decoding the ethics code: A practical guide for psychologists. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.