Witness nicknamed 'Dr. Death' says license won't be affected by allegations
by Laura Bell, Public Health Writer, Dallas Morning News July 26, 1995
Dr. James Grigson--the
Dallas psychiatrist nicknamed "Dr. Death"
because he often testifies in capital murder cases-- has been
expelled from the American Psychiatric Association and the Texas
Society of Psychiatric Physicians for alleged ethics violations.
A statement issued last
week by the psychiatric association says
that Dr. Grigson violated the organization's ethics code by
"arriving at a psychiatric diagnosis without first having
examined the individuals in question, and for indicating, while
testifying in court as an expert witness, that he could predict
with 100 per cent certainty that the individuals would engage in
future violent acts".
Dr. Grigson said the decision
will not affect his license to
practice, although he expects his expulsion to be brought up in
court to cast doubt on his credibility. He noted that he has been
reprimanded by the association twice in the past and that he
still testifies in court."I've never been kicked out of
anything," he said. "For them to say I'm unethical...it's really
Dr. Grigson said that
the association was motivated by the fact
that he has, during his 30-year career, usually testified for the
prosecution. Dr. Grigson has been certified as an expert witness
in about 150 capital murder trials, according to a lawsuit he
filed last year against the association.
"There has been--there
still is--a group that's opposed to the
death penalty," Dr. Grigson said. "They're not only trying to
stop me from testifying, they're trying to stop psychiatrists
from all over the state from testifying". Dr. Grigson tried
unsuccessfully to stop his expulsion last year by suing the
association. Now, he says he won't appeal the decision. "After
it's happened, I can't change it", he said.
Gus Cervini, a spokesman
for the American Psychiatric
Association, would not discuss any details of Dr. Grigson's case.
Instead, Mr. Cervini referred inquiries to Dr. Jonas Rappeport of
Baltimore, medical director of the American Academy of Psychiatry
and the Law. "He just oversteps the bounds of his professional
competence", said Dr. Rappeport, who was not involved in the
decision to expel Dr. Grigson. In particular, Dr. Rappeport said
that no psychiatrist can predict with 100 per cent certainty
whether someone will be dangerous to society.
Dr. Rappeport also said
that Dr. Grigson repeatedly answered
questions in court based on hypothetical situations that did not
provide enough information to form a sound professional opinion.
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