I just wanted to make all prosecutors aware of the fact that beyond his traditional role of an expert defense witness during sentencing to quite predictably testify that an individual is a low risk to the community and/or victim to re-offend, Matt Ferrara has also taken it upon himself to testify DURING GUILT INNOCENCE as to the DEFENDANT'S MENTAL STATE at the time of the offense(s). He bases this type of testimony on Dr. Cunningham's model (which is typically used during sentencing and in capital cases or murders.
I was very surprised when this occured during my trial and I am pretty sure that he has never testified in this capacity before, but perhaps he has, becuase on the stand when asked he couldn't recall.
The bottom line is to BEWARE and to BE PREPARED for this type of testimony. Also, PLEASE it is very important to collect as many transcripts and documents that we can to share and assist each other. If you have anything, please contact me at 512-463-0255.
Sent you an email, Heather.
Angela Goodwin with the AG's office in Austin did the finest cross I have seen of Ferrara in the area where he would testify in your case.
Heather, can you explain what doctor Cunningham's model is? I think it is based on statistics, and I was told that Cunningham was once quoted saying he'd rather have a murderer for a cellmate than a thief. How exactly do the mechanics of Ferrara's testimony in this area work?
I have a transcript where Cunningham testified that he wouldn't say Hitler was a future danger.
The Lizard Man is innocent!
Well, my understanding of the model as communicated through Matt Ferrara who knew all about it because he took an 8 hour class a couple of years ago, is that it is based only on an interview of the defendant typically and factors in the following:
1. Brain Pathology or Head Injury
2. Upbringing, Family and Mental Health History
3. Early Experiences
4. Independent Functioning
Basically, factors that you would hear during sentencing to mitigate a person's punishment to attempt to curry favor with the jury based on sympathy for the defendant (and not the victims).
Heather -- what kind of case was it where Ferrara testified at Guilt/Innocence? Seems like that's something that with a 705 hearing outside the presence of the jury, would not be allowed in.
That's funny because he also took an 8 hour class in how to do forensic videos of sexually assaulted children, although he has never interviewed this class of victims in practice if not recanting, and he knew all about that too.
As was discussed on another thread, that is "Amazing".
Dr. Ferrara is slated to testify for the defense in a sexual abuse case in my county. Heather could you and Greg share anything you have please! My email address should work.
Ferrara has appeared in several jurisdictions in recent years testifying or attempting to testify as an expert regarding forensic interviews.
I have prepared a cross Q&A for Ferrara on his alleged expertise in the area of Forensic Interviews. Please call me if you need a copy.
Agreed. Testimony regarding the defendant's mental state from someone who is not the defendant should always be inadmissible (although there's a limited exception for defendants who have been victims of family violence).
In a recent case where we expected a defense expert to pull a Ferrara, we filed a pretrial motion notifying the court of our intent to object to any expert testimony regarding the defendant's mental state at the time of the offense. Apparently it worked: the defense didn't call their expert during guilt/innocence.
If anyone would like a copy of our motion, shoot me an e-mail.
I have a cross Q&A for Dr. Ferrara on his alleged expertise as an expert testifying regarding Forensic Interviews. I've submitted it to Heather to be fine tuned by her. If you have Ferrara appearing as an expert on this issue, call me.
[Two separate but related threads on Dr. Ferrara have been consolidated for future reference.]
On G/I, doing an appeal on that very issue, trial court kept out the expert testimony. Ruffin v. State, 270 SW3d 586 (CCA) gives a good analysis of the very limited circumstances when it may be admissible to negate the mens rea element.
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