Dr. Johnson, I presume

The routine is getting pretty normal – after a little work cut the best diagonal across downtown Boston.   Since the city is older than the right angle, things aren’t square – and you can often cut through buildings to walk the hypotenuse, cutting two minutes.  I didn’t need those two minutes, still made it to the jury room before 9 with lunch bag in hand.  The usual early birds were there, and Larry brought us pamphlets about ArtsBoston – he’s the perfect arts promoter, comfortably working every crowd he gets.

Wesley’s another good crowd worker; he gets a new audience for his jokes every few days, and has had the opportunity to develop his delivery today’s joke – “I’m an atheist, I swear to God”.

This morning the attorney’s blazers didn’t match. One was grey and one navy blue, but still, powerful and serious, and John, big surprise, a perfectly pressed blue shirt.  I start to wonder about his money – he’s been living in Bridgewater and unable to work, who is paying Schmidt?  Is Public Defender money available?  I sort of doubt it as he is not accused of a crime. Is his family helping him?  Does he have a trust fund? If I had a brother in this place would I help with this expense?  Maybe those few people in the court room are his family.

The next witness sworn in is Dr. Angela Johnson.  She’s wearing a suit that looks borrowed, or bought from Goodwill, nothing wrong with it, but fashion isn’t her focus. She’s got a pile of folders, and walks quickly across the room. The casting director should look for “overworked bureaucrat at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, resenting the time you are taking of hers.”  I expect her to say “Yeah, sure, whatever” when sworn in, but she’s not going to risk contempt.

So, Juarez, what are you going to do with this one?  Not much, Dr. Johnson’s credentials are entered into evidence. She’s a member of the community access board, the state body which determines if Bridgewater residents can go back into the community. She is here because John has appealed the decision of that board.

Dr. Johnson’s PsyD has a concentration in forensics.  She went Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology to solve or prevent crimes, not to become a therapist.  Once again I am astounded by the variety of things people do, and why they are interested in them.

She doesn’t help Juarez much, one syllable answers with hostility behind them.

On cross examination, Schmidt has more fun with Johnson. She asks confusing questions, then apologizes for being confusing. It is all an act, Schmidt does not do anything by accident.  One question asks about the other members of the Community Access Board including Dr. Ann Johnson.  Schmidt asks a question about whether Dr. Johnson disagreed. Dr. Angela Johnson looks puzzled then spits out “you mean Dr. Ann Johnson?”

“Oh yes, that was confusing, you’re Dr. Johnson too, Dr. Angela Johnson, sorry it was confusing”. Schmidt does flustered well.  She throws hypothetical questions in quick succession.

“Dr. Johnson are you familiar with an article by Frances First ‘Paraphelia NOC Non-Consent not ready for the courtroom?”

“Yes, I am familiar with it”

“And does not this article state that use of this diagnosis in committals is a fundamental misreading of the original intent of the DSM-IV”

“I would have to review the article to respond to that”

Schmidt turns to the judge and asks “may I approach the witness your honor?”

On receiving the nod she strides to the stand, and presents the article – she has kindly highlighted the phrase in question, leaving Dr. Johnson with the article.

Schmidt repeats the question, and Dr. Johnson must respond “yes, it does say that”

Schmidt then gets Johnson to confirm the unreliable nature of the testing tools.  The questions consist largely of making a statement such as “Is it not true that XYZ’s article in this journal shows that Inter rater reliability for the diagnosis Paraphelia NOS non-consent is only 36 percent?”.  More trips to the stand to show Dr. Johnson the article.   Dr. Johnson confirms that the article says that. Juarez jumps up a few times, but her heart doesn’t seem in it, she’s overruled a lot.

When Juarez comes to rebut the cross examination she just wants one statement, it is nothing new, but she wants to make sure we hear it in a number of different voices “is John likely to reoffend?”

She gets her “yes”, and Johnson is permitted to gather her documents and flee.


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