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Contribution of Psychology in Law (Coursework Sample)


Review the case Supreme Court of Florida v. Hall for this assignment. USING THE CASE FACTS, DESCRIBE THE INTERSECTIONS BETWEEN LAW AND PSYCHOLOGY. HOW DID THE DEFEDANTS and/or accused use psychology principles as basis for their argument in the case?


Death Penalty
Death Penalty
Forensic psychology involves the application of psychological principles in a legal environment. It consists of the utilization of clinical skills like assessment, evaluation, and treatment in criminal investigations. Forensic psychology has a broad application in assessing mental abilities for people involved with the legal assessment. For example, the concept of mens rea is applied as a foundation for the conviction that relates to the sanity of criminal suspects. It strives to establish if the suspects were of sound mind when committing a crime. For example, the Supreme Court case, Hall v. Florida (2014), invokes forensic psychology's contribution to the legal system. Forensic psychology has wide application in law in determining psychological factors in defendants to help the jury make informed decisions.
Psychology and Law in the Case
Psychology and law unite in the interest of addressing human behaviors. The interactions between the two disciplines form the foundation for forensic psychology that strives to understand criminal law to help the jury make fair legal decisions. Forensic psychologists have been engaged in specialty training, treatment, and consultation in legal proceedings involving death sentences (Frecklton, 2016). The capital offence is tailored towards the unique offense and the criminal suspect. This requires the court to consider a range of factors, including a convict's psychological dimension, after a guilty verdict. These factors can influence the jury's decision to pass a death or a life sentence for a convict. These factors involve the defendants' ability to understand the purpose of the sentence, the possibility for committing violent crimes in the future, and their mental abilities (Sanger, 2015). Forensic psychology was applied in the Supreme Court of Florida v. Hall to help the judges establish the defendant's intellectual capacity and legibility to face a death sentence. The forensic psychologist assessed Hall by conducting an IQ test whose results were converted into a legal framework. In some cases, the jury may request psychologists' recommendations concerning sentencing and other related information like mitigating factors (Sanger, 2015). However, the sole purpose of a forensic psychologist in the case was to determine if Hall's mental status could conflict with the sentencing criterion provided in Atkins v. Virginia. In this case, the court had ruled that convicts with an IQ score of 70 and below could not face the death penalty because they were intellectually disabled (American Psychological Association, 2014). The intellectual scores (IQ) of convicts in psychological tests suggest the possibility of the absence of a psychological disorder based on probabilities. The likelihood of people having a mental disorder is compared by the extent to which their scores are similar to those of others diagnosed with the same condition. However, the Supreme Court v. Hall indicates that the court retains the ultimate decision that is absolute and final. The court's ruling on the case did not capture SEM in Hall's IQ tests, which should have expected him from a death sentence.
Psychological Reasoning in the Case
The defendant, Freddie Lee Hall, was found guilty of murdering Karol Hurst and was sentenced to death in 1978 (Oyez, 2014). He pursued a writ of habeas corpus in federal court but was denied without a hearing. He appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeal, and the appeal was dismissed. The Supreme Court of Florida vacated the case and remanded it for new sentencing, where it held that the defendant's mental retardation was a limiting factor with ''unquantifiable weight,'' where he was sentenced to death again. The Supreme Court referenced the case of Atkins v. Virginia that held that executing mentally disabled defendants was cruelty and a violation of the Eighth Amendment. However, the decision opened a door for Hall to file another motion challenging the constitutionality of Florida's death penalty (American Psychological Association, 2014). This initiated a bond of contention in the criteria for determining the defendant's IQ. The cutoff score ruled in Florida's death statue was 70 and less, while Hall's score was 71. In a majority decision of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled that if the IQ of a capital offence falls within the standard error measure (SEM), then the defendant can present additional evidence of intellectual disability.
The specific issue before the Supreme Court of Florida was determining the bright line rule that excluded convicts with plus or minus five points from the IQ of 70. Forensic psychologists were engaged in conducting a lengthy analysis of intellectual disability based on its structure of definition from clinical authority (Sanger, 2015). The definition captures three dimensions that cut across clinical and legal frameworks. They include a deficit in adaptive functioning, subaverage intellectual functioning, and the onset of these deficits in the development period. These criteria form the basis for the evidence of forensic psychologists. If facts suggest that defendants facing the capital penalty is intellectually disabled based on the three criteria, they are exempted for execution. The available alternative is life imprisonment without parole.
The IQ and subaverage intellectual functioning in forensic are determined by evidence presented in the hearing. The general inte

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