Shawn Curtis, Psy.D, is a 2019 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle.

Dissertation Committee

Jude Bergkcamp, Psy.D., Committee Chair

William Heusler, Psy.D., Committee Member

Maile Bay, Psy.D., J.D., Committee Member


forensic psychology, competency to stand trial, adjudicative competency, multicultural assessment, cross-cultural assessment, grounded theory, State v Sisouvanh

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The Washington State Supreme Court has strongly recommended that culture should be considered as a factor for multicultural defendants when questions regarding competency to stand trial have been raised and an evaluation is ordered by the Court. This represented a departure from prior decisions, which have ignored culture as a factor for consideration in such cases. Though culture had long been identified as a core pillar within clinical psychology, research in the sub-field of forensic psychology has shown a dearth in the literature regarding culture as a factor in forensic assessment. Despite the recent cases in Washington State, the criminal justice system generally remained silent on how to address culture, which led to a form of systemic cultural suppression. Given the dichotomy that exists at the intersection of the criminal justice system with psychology, forensic examiners have struggled in their efforts to address culture, which has become a nuisance variable. Using a grounded theory methodology, this study identified a spectrum of reactions that have risen from the attitudes and strategies forensic examiners have developed in their response to systemic constraints, bias, individual case and defendant characteristics. Furthermore, the identification of examiner reactions within the context of multicultural cases is a critical step towards developing best practice guidelines on how these cases should be addressed.


Shawn Curtis, Psy.D., 2019

ORCID Scholar ID # 0000-0002-9113-9299

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