Committee on Legal Issues 2012 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. Michael J. Jenuwine, JD, PhD and Lisa Drago Piechowski, PhD served as COLI’s Co-Chairs for 2012. The members of COLI for 2012 included:

  • 3rd Year Class: Michael J. Jenuwine, JD, PhD; Charlotte J. Patterson, PhD; Lisa Drago Piechowski, PhD

  • 2nd Year Class: Lori J. Butts, JD, PhD; Craig R. Lareau, JD, PhD; Marc W. Pearce, JD, PhD

  • 1st Year Class: Terese A. Hall, JD, PhD; Melissa J. Westendorf, JD, PhD; Jennifer L. Woolard, PhD


COLI convened two meetings in 2012 on March 30-31 and November 2-3, in Washington, DC, in conjunction with the APA Consolidated Meetings.

Summary of COLI Activities

COLI Amicus Review

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

  • Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs (US Supreme Court) - Juvenile Life without Parole: The Supreme Court consolidated these two cases presenting the question of the constitutionality of a sentence of life without parole for juveniles who committed homicide offenses. These cases were follow-on cases to two previous Supreme Court cases in which APA filed an amicus brief: Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), which held that imposition of the death penalty on defendants who were under age 18 when they committed their crimes violated the Eighth Amendment, and Graham v. Florida, 130 S. Ct. 2011 (2010), which held that imposition of life without parole on defendants who were under age 18 at the time of their crimes and who were convicted of non-homicide offenses violated the Eighth Amendment.

  • Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (US Supreme Court) - Affirmative Action: At issue is whether the US Supreme Court’s decisions interpreting the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), permit the University of Texas at Austin’s use of race as a factor in university admissions decisions. APA filed an amicus brief in support of the university.

  • Windsor v. U.S. (US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit) and Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management (US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) – Marriage Equality: Both cases challenge 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.

COLI Projects/Initiatives

Facilitating APA/ABA Relations

COLI continued to explore current psychological/legal issues that may be appropriate for future APA/ABA collaboration. One major undertaking initiated in fall 2013 was the American Bar Association agreement to join with APA to plan and implement a National Continuing Education Conference, Addressing the Unspeakable: Confronting Family and Community ViolenceThe Intersection of Psychology and Law. The conference will take place in Washington DC, October 2-5, 2013. The three-day conference will include plenary and invited sessions addressing the broad range of issues related to the exposure of children, youth, and families to violence in and around the home, community, and society. Some topical themes or tracks for the conference will include juvenile justice; child maltreatment and adolescent health and welfare; domestic violence; bullying or violence in schools, gangs or neighborhoods; and media violence.

This conference builds on recent national efforts to address the effects of violence on children, youth, and families, including the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative. The conference should have broad appeal to psychologists, lawyers, judges, legal scholars, and others interested in the role of the law and psychology in supporting healthy children, youth and family functioning in a safe society.

Judicial Ambassadors Initiative

This judicial outreach initiative provides forums for building more effective relationships between the psychological and judicial communities. Efforts were made in 2012 to collaborate with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ). NCJFCJ’s 75th Annual Conference took place in New Orleans in July 2012, and arrangements were made to send a judicial ambassador. Kimberly Larson, JD, PhD, spoke to judges about juvenile competence remediation in two sessions that were well attended.

Convention Programming

COLI, during the 2012 APA Convention in Orlando, Florida, sponsored two programs as follows:

  1. COLI and Ethics presented a two-hour CE program titled, Partners in Practice: How the Ethics Code and the Specialty Forensic Guidelines Converge. COLI members, Michael Jenuwine and Lori Butts, joined with Ethics representatives, Lindsay Childress-Beatty and James Bow, to serve on the panel.

  2. Marc Pearce coordinated a special one-hour CE symposium titled, Adolescent Culpability and the Supreme Court: Challenges to the Use of Social Science in Advocacy. This session addressed the brief that APA filed in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, and was presented in a debate format with Marc Pearce and Laurence Steinberg serving as panelists and Nathalie Gilfoyle as facilitator/moderator.

Strategies for Responding to a Subpoena

COLI began revision of the document, Strategies for Private Practitioners Coping With Subpoenas or Compelled Testimony for Client Records or Test Data (Professional Psychology: Research and Practice [2006] Vol. 37, No. 2, 215-222). This document, originally published in 1996, was prepared to respond to the growing number of inquiries that APA has and continues to receive from members seeking guidance in this regard.

COLI also began its work, in conjunction with the APA Ethics Office and the APA Continuing Professional Education Program, to develop a CE video primer addressing the issue of how to respond to a subpoena. As envisioned, this product will be applicable to all mental health professionals and marketed to practitioners as well as to universities for use in graduate programs. The product, comprised of a series of vignettes, will be a live webcast and then available on-demand. Provided that this first product proves to be a success, it could mark the beginning of a series of modules on various psychology/law topics.

COLI Reviewed and Provided Comments on APA Statements, Guidelines, Proposed Policies, Reports, and Other Issues, as follows
  • APA Data Collection Activities

  • Whether APA should consider endorsing Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice

  • Proposed Board of Education Affairs Statement on Accreditation

  • Education and Training of Doctoral Trainees to Provide Healthcare Services

  • Endorsement of document “Structure and Function of an Interdisciplinary Team for Persons with Acquired Brain Inquiry”

  • Proposed APA policy statement addressing Recognition of Psychotherapy Effectiveness

  • Proposed changes to amend Association Rule 30-8 and specific APA policies to ensure that policies, review procedures, and nomenclature are consistent with the evolution of guidelines development both within and external to APA

  • Proposed changes in guidelines terminology for “Practice Guidelines” to “Professional Practice Guidelines,” and “Treatment Guidelines” to “Clinical Practice Guidelines” and proposed amendments to reduce the public comments period from 90 to 60 days

  • Revision of APA Guidelines for Ethical Conduct of Behavioral Projects Involving Human Participants by High School Students

  • Proposed Resolution on Alternatives to Physical Punishment of Children by Parents

  • Call for Questions to the President-Elect Candidates

  • Proposed Data Sharing Principles and Policy Language for APA Journals

  • Draft Guidelines for the Practice of Telepsychology

  • Appointment of COLI-member reviewer for the Preliminary Draft of the Task Force on the Trafficking of Women and Girls

  • Human Rights Initiative by the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest