Committee on Legal Issues 2011 Annual Report


The Committee on Legal Issues (COLI) is an ad hoc Committee that reports through the APA Board of Directors while maintaining a close working relationship with APA’s General Counsel and related staff. The overarching mission of COLI is to provide and promote expertise on psycho-legal issues and trends.


COLI consists of nine APA members with broad expertise and interests in psycho-legal issues. Membership on COLI is on a rotating basis, with members appointed for three-year terms. David S. DeMatteo, JD, PhD, served as COLI’s Chair for 2011. The members of COLI for 2011 included:
  • 3rd Year Class: Mary Alice Conroy, PhD; David S. DeMatteo, JD, PhD; Eugene F. Griffin, JD, PhD

  • 2nd Year Class: Michael J. Jenuwine, JD, PhD; Charlotte J. Patterson, PhD; Lisa Drago Piechowski, PhD

  • 1st Year Class: Lori J. Butts, JD, PhD; Craig R. Lareau, JD, PhD; Marc W. Pearce, JD, PhD


COLI convened two meetings in 2011 on March 25-26 and November 4-5, in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the APA Consolidated Meetings.

Summary of COLI Activities

COLI Amicus Review

COLI reviewed and issued recommendations to the Board of Directors concerning APA involvement as amicus curiae in cases, as follows:

  • Donaldson v. Montana (Montana Supreme Court)
    Six same-sex couples in this case are seeking the protection of state-recognized domestic partnerships (i.e., a finding under the state constitution’s provisions, such as its guarantees of equal protection and privacy, that denial to same-sex couples of the rights and benefits that accrue to married different-sex couples is unconstitutional).

  • Gill v. Office of Personnel Management (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit)
    At issue is the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the section that defines the term “marriage,” for all federal purposes, as "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" and thus requires the federal government to disregard marriages of same-sex couples.

  • Michigan v. Kowalski (Michigan Supreme Court)
    At issue is the reliability and relevance of expert testimony on false confessions.

  • Perry v. New Hampshire (U.S. Supreme Court) and Commonwealth v. Walker (Pennsylvania Supreme Court)
    At issue in both cases is expert testimony regarding the reliability of eyewitness identification.

  • Coble v. Texas (U.S. Supreme Court)
    At issue is the reliability of expert testimony on risk of “future dangerousness” in a death penalty case – certiorari denied

COLI Projects/Initiatives

Facilitating APA/ABA Relations

COLI continued to explore current psychological/legal issues that may be appropriate for future APA/ABA collaboration.

Judicial Ambassadors Initiative

This judicial outreach initiative provides forums for building more effective relationships between the psychological and judicial communities. Efforts were made in 2011 to collaborate with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ). NCJFCJ’s 74th Annual Conference took place in New York in July 2011, and arrangements were made to send two judicial ambassadors. COLI member, Mary Alice Conroy, PhD, presented on the topic of Junk Science in the Courts, and Carola Suarez-Orozco, PhD, Chair of the APA Presidential Task Force on Immigration, presented on issues at the intersection of law and psychology regarding immigration. Both sessions were well attended and well received.

Convention Programming

COLI, during the 2011 APA Convention in Washington, D.C., sponsored two programs as follows:

  • You Are Commanded to Appear: Responding to a Subpoena
    COLI members, David DeMatteo, JD, PhD; Mary Alice Conroy, PhD, and Michael Jenuwine, JD, PhD, served as participants

  • Legal and Ethical Issues in Telepsychology
    The session was a COLI/Ethics continuing education program. Participants included COLI members: David DeMatteo, JD, PhD; Mary Alice Conroy, PhD, and Michael Jenuwine, JD, PhD. Ethics panelists included Lindsay Childress-Beatty, JD, PhD, and Cynthia Sturm, PhD.

COLI Reviewed and Provided Comments on APA Statements, Guidelines, Proposed Policies, Reports, and Other Issues
  • Guidelines for the Conduct of President-Elect Nominations and Elections

  • Report of the Presidential Task Force on Immigration

  • Proposed Resolution on Family Caregivers

  • Report of the Convention Task Force

  • Psychology Accreditation/Quality Assurance Accord

  • National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula

  • National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula Performance

  • Guidelines for Preparing High School Psychology Teachers: Course-Based and Standards-Based Approaches

  • Proposed Revisions to the CRSPPP Principles for Specialty Recognition

  • Petition for Recognition of Group Psychology as Proficiency

  • Petition for Recognition of Clinical Health Psychology as a Specialty

  • Recognition of Psychotherapy Effectiveness

  • Structure and Function of an Interdisciplinary Team for Persons with Acquired Brain Injury

  • Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology

  • Prevention Science and Practice Guidelines

  • Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing

  • APA Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Animals in Research

  • Call for Questions to the President-Elect Candidates

  • Education and Training Guidelines: Taxonomy for Education and Training in Professional Psychology from the Commission for the Recognition of Specialties in Professional Psychology (CRSPPP)

  • Master’s Level Education in Psychology

  • Guidelines for Assuring Quality and Accounting for Learning

  • Science and Human Rights Coalition 2012-2014 Action Plan

  • Resolution on Combination Biomedical and Behavioral Approaches to Optimize HIV Prevention

  • Final Report of the Presidential Task Force on Reducing and Preventing Discrimination Against and Enhancing Benefits of Inclusion of People Whose Social Identities are Marginalized in U.S. Society

  • Proposed Resolution on Interrogations of Criminal Suspects