The role and relevance of the psychopathy checklist-revised in court - A case law survey of US Courts (1991-2004) Academic Article uri icon


  • The Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R; R. D. Hare, 1991, 2003) is the most empirically validated instrument for measuring psychopathy in correctional and forensic psychiatric populations. The PCL-R's predictive utility with criminal justice populations has led to its frequent use by clinicians conducting forensic assessments in criminal and sexually violent predator (SVP) cases. Despite its apparent wide acceptance in U.S. courts, little is known about how often the PCL-R is being introduced, the types of cases in which it is being used, and whether claims made in court regarding psychopathy are empirically defensible and/or relevant to the question at hand. This project documents some uses of the PCL-R in U.S. courts from 1991 through 2004 by year, jurisdiction, type of evaluation, and party. The results suggest that the PCL-R is being used by expert witnesses with increasing regularity across U.S. jurisdictions, primarily to assess risk of future violence. A review of 3 recent cases is also provided that illustrates concerns about the validity of the PCL-R for certain types of legal questions that may arise in criminal and SVP trials. Copyright 2006 by the American Psycholgical Association.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • DeMatteo, D., & Edens, J. F.

citation count

  • 119

complete list of authors

  • DeMatteo, David||Edens, John F

publication date

  • January 2006