Here you will find examples of articles I have written, instances where my work has been referenced in the media or publications and interesting opportunities I’ve had to continue my efforts to educate legal professionals. Everything listed on this page is available in the public domain and therefore contains no confidential information.
Justice for Teens: How research on brain development has dramatically changed the way courts view juveniles’ culpability.
Earlier in 2017, a writer for the APA publication “Monitor on Psychology” approached me and requested an interview for an article she was writing about how behavioral science is influencing the way juveniles are viewed and sentenced by the courts. The article was centered around research on adolescent brain development, how it relates to resentencing decisions based on Miller v. Alabama and how it’s being used to affect change in the juvenile justice system.
Prospects for Developing Expert Evidence in Juvenile “Montgomery” Resentencing Cases
Dr. Thomas Grisso and I were approached by the executive editor of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ quarterly digital publication For the Defense and were asked to co-author an article for their May 2017 edition.
The article was tailored to help defense counsel understand the types of developmental evidence that can be used in juvenile Montgomery resentencing cases, explain the benefits and limitations of retaining an expert trained in developmental, psychological or clinical sciences to assist counsel in defense of their clients and what those experts can be expected to provide.
When Are We Going to Launch Gault 2.0?
The editor of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ journal, The Champion magazine invited me to write an article to be included in a special edition coinciding with the 50th anniversary of In re Gault. My article urged attorneys to take a case to SCOTUS that would result in, what I coined, Gault 2.0. This new and expanded version of Gault would rely on longstanding empirical evidence demonstrating that as part of the normal development process, the brain of an adolescent functions differently than that of an adult. In an effort to maintain fairness and justice, SCOTUS would require additional safeguards throughout the juvenile’s involvement with the legal system to address these differences.
Prospects for Developmental Evidence in Juvenile Sentencing Based on Miller v. Alabama
I co-authored this peer-reviewed article, published in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law, with Dr. Thomas Grisso. In this article, we described how developmental and clinical evidence can be relevant in Miller hearings. Additionally, we were honored to have our article selected for the American Psychological Association’s “Article Spotlight” which highlights articles deemed to be of particular interest psychologists.
“Jensen’s Youth Played A Powerful Part In Murder; Presents Challenges If Parole Granted”
In 2016, I testified in a Miller v. Alabama resentencing hearing twenty years after the defendant, Paul Jensen, was initially sentenced. His resentencing hearing was stayed until after the court ruled in Montgomery v. Louisiana. You can click here to learn more about Mr. Jensen’s case.
Brendan Dassey: A True Story of False Confession
Although I was not directly involved in the Brendan Dassey case, because of my expertise in false confessions and adolescent development, I was asked to participate in a panel at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law—Brendan Dassey: A True Story of False Confession. A video presentation of the panel is available here and this Chicago Daily Law Bulletin highlights of the evening’s events.
A College Graduate Confesses to a Murder He Did Not Commit: A Case of a Voluntary False Confession
I have worked on many cases where the attorney felt the defendant falsely confessed. In these situations, the confession was typically the product of some combination of the particular characteristics of the defendant and of the interrogation. I had the opportunity to work on a case where the defendant spontaneously falsely confessed. My work on this case prompted me to write A College Graduate Confesses to a Murder He Did Not Commit: A Case of a Voluntary False Confession which was published in the peer reviewed Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice.
Testimony Wraps up in Hearing for Anissa Weier, Charged in “Slenderman” Stabbing
Usually my testimony at transfer or reverse waiver hearings is not open to the media, but in 2015 I testified in one that was open to the public. I evaluated Anissa Weier and testified at her reverse waiver hearing. This article covered the case and hearing.
Determination of Fitness to Stand Trial and Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
Unbeknownst to me, my work on Melvin Newman’s case was featured in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. This article presents an overview of the case as well as the judge’s ruling. The authors noted:
“This holding is important because it recognizes the relevance, legitimacy, and admissibility of long-delayed clinical evaluations, not just for fitness to stand trial but also as they bear on other forensic matters, such as competency to execute a will, waiver of Miranda rights, and psychological autopsies. Especially instructive are the reasons that the court gave weight to the evaluation and opinions of Dr. Kavanaugh: that she had done extensive record review, had employed psychological testing, had interviewed various persons who had knowledge of Mr. Newman contemporaneous with the relevant periods in question, had spent much time in interviewing him, and had used testing for malingering.”
Retaining a Forensic Mental Health Expert in Miller Cases
Since Miller v. Alabama was decided in 2012 and I have had the opportunity to conduct quite a few Miller resentencing evaluations. As such, I realized not only is Miller new law but it is also a new opportunity for attorneys to work with mental health experts. Based on my knowledge, expertise and experience, I wrote “Retaining a Forensic Mental Health Expert in Miller Cases” for The Champion.
Board Certification in Forensic Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology
Over the course of my career, as I grew as a practitioner, I’d set a long-term professional goal of earning Board Certification in Forensic Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP). And in October of 2014, I successfully achieved that goal and officially became a Diplomate in Forensic Psychology. To learn more about what this board certification means and what it involves, click here.
Antoinette Kavanaugh on Working as a Forensic Clinician
The American Psychology and Law Society (APLS) is one of many divisions of the American Psychological Associations (APA). While I was a co-chair of APLS’ Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) we developed a series of videos explaining forensic psychology and highlighting the works of clinical and research forensic psychologists. I was honored that the MAC asked me to be one of the clinicians featured in the video which can be seen here.
Doctor Says Ford Murder Suspect Gave False Confession
In 2007, David Spears was charged with the rape and murder of his stepdaughter. After a lengthy interrogation, he confessed to these crimes. His legal team retained me to evaluate him to see if there were factors that made the reliability of his confession questionable. Based on my evaluation and review of the records, my clinical opinion was the confession was unreliable. I testified at Mr. Spears’ pretrial motion. However, the judge ruled the confession was admissible. Then, in 2012, while Mr. Spears was still awaiting his trial, the prosecutor dropped the charges citing, among other things, a lack of credible evidence to support Mr. Spears’ confession or implicate him in the crime.
Judge: Teen Competent to Stand Trial for Girl’s Death
I was one of two clinicians who evaluated a 14-year-old youth to determine his competency to stand trial. Although both clinicians questioned the youth’s competency, the judge found otherwise.