Committee on Legal Issues 2010 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. Eve M. Brank, JD, PhD and Lori C. Thomas, JD, PhD served as COLI’s Co-Chairs for 2010. The members of COLI for 2010 included:

3rd Year Class: Eve M. Brank, JD, PhD; Sharon G. Portwood, JD, PhD; Lori C. Thomas, JD, PhD 2nd Year Class: Mary Alice Conroy, PhD; David S. DeMatteo, JD, PhD; Eugene F. Griffin, JD, PhD 1st Year Class: Michael J. Jenuwine, JD, PhD; Charlotte J. Patterson, PhD; Lisa Drago Piechowski, PhD


COLI convened two meetings in 2010 on March 19-20 and October 22-23, 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 concerning APA involvement as amicus curiae in cases, as follows:

  1. Boseman v. Jarrell (North Carolina Supreme Court) - Addresses a case in which a conservative advocacy group seeks to invalidate an adoption order by which a biological mother and her lesbian partner documented their family relationship.

  2. In Marquez v. Estate of Garcia (Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District, Division Seven) - Addresses the confidentiality of patient records and the deposition of a psychotherapist who handled a patient’s case.

  3. Planned Parenthood et al. v. Mike Rounds et al. (United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit) - Addresses the constitutionality of a South Dakota statute that required physicians to warn women considering an abortion that suicide or suicidal ideation are know medical risks of abortion. NOTE-brief filed but not accepted.

  4. Three amicus briefs addressing the reliability of a legally voluntary confession in light of new evidence of innocence (“false confessions”) as follows:

    • Floyd v. Cain (Supreme Court of Louisiana)

    • Warney v. New York (New York State Court of Appeals, Appellate Div., Fourth Department)

    • Rivera v. Illinois (Appellate Court of Illinois, Second Judicial District)

  5. Perry v. Schwarzenegger (US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) - Addresses a challenge to Proposition 8 (or the California Marriage Protection Act), a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in the 2008 state elections which provides that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

  6. Schwarzenegger v. Plata and Coleman (US Supreme Court) - At issue is a lengthy class action Case by California prisoners who are mentally ill (and another class for those with physical medical needs) challenging the conditions of their imprisonment due to overcrowding, including lack of adequate mental health services.

COLI Projects/Initiatives

Facilitating APA/ABA Relations -- Select APA and ABA presenters from the April 2008 APA/ABA Conference, Reconceptualizing Child Custody: Past, Present, and Future - Lawyers and Psychologists Working Together, expanded their presentations for publication in a special issue of the interdisciplinary journal, Behavioral Science and the Law, devoted to issues pertaining to divorce, separation, children and families. (Published July-August 2010, Volume 28, Number 4). This publication serves as a vehicle to apprise others of this collaborative APA/ABA effort and allows for greater distribution of some of the best work presented at the APA/ABA Conference.

COLI convened an open meeting during the Fall 2010 APA Consolidated Meeting to solicit input from Boards and Committees in identifying current psychological/legal issues or areas of interest 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 2010 to collaborate with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. COLI member, Lori C. Thomas, JD, PhD, served as a judicial ambassador at NCJFCJ’s National Conference on Juvenile and Family Law addressing high conflict difficult clients and personality disorders.

Convention Programming -- COLI, during the 2010 APA Convention in San Diego, sponsored two programs as follows:

  • Common Ethical and Legal Dilemmas: Psychologists, Families and Divorce Wars - this session was the seventh COLI/Ethics Committee co-sponsored continuing education program addressing legal/ethical dilemmas raised in particular vignettes

  • APA’s Role in the Battle for Marriage Equality: Bringing the Research to the Courts - COLI member Charlotte Patterson Chaired the session with Nathalie Gilfoyle, APA General Counsel, and outside counsel, Paul Smith, serving as panelists. This well-attended session was part of a series of sessions addressing the issue of marriage equality.

COLI Reviewed and Provided Comments on APA Statements, Guidelines, Proposed Policies, Reports, and Other Issues, as follows --

  • Proposed Policy to List of American Board of Assessment Psychology Diplomates in APA Directory

  • Submission of Strategic Plan Initiatives

  • BEA Task Force on Classroom Violence Directed Against K-12 Teachers White Paper

  • Comments on CRSPPP Petitions for Recognition or Renewal

  • National Standards for High School Psychology Curricula

  • Draft Guidelines for Psychological Practice in Health Care Delivery Systems

  • Final Report of the 2009 Presidential Task Force on the Future of Psychology Practice

  • Guidelines for the Practice of Parenting Coordination

  • Revision of Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters

  • Guidelines Policy Education and Dissemination Project

  • APA Input to the American Association for the Advancement of Science Science and Human Rights Coalition

  • Guidelines for the Evaluation for the Evaluation of Dementia and Age-Related Cognitive Decline

  • Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients

  • The Report of the Task Force on the Psychological Effects of War on Children and Families Who Are Refugees from Armed Conflict Residing in the United States

  • Resolution on Data about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

  • Proposed Revisions to the APA Resolution on Homelessness

  • APA Convention and Meeting Facility Contract Procedures and Cancellation Clause

  • Issued Questions for President-Elect Candidates

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

  • Principles for Quality Undergraduate Education in Psychology

  • Master’s Level Education in Psychology

  • Revised Guidelines for Psychological Practice in Health Care Delivery Systems

  • Proposed Guidelines for Prevention Practice, Research, Education and Social Advocacy for Psychologists

  • Proposed Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology

  • Resolution on Affirming Research on Global Climate Change

  • Resolution on Marriage Equality for Same-Sex Couples

  • Telepsychology Guidelines for Psychology

  • Implications of the Model Licensing Act (MLA) for I/O Psychology

  • Request to Consider Resolution on Life Without Parole Assessments

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