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Expert Testimony – Mental Disorder – Usefulness to Fact-Finder

State v. John J. Watson, 227 Wis.2d 167, 595 N.W.2d 403 (1999), reversing unpublished decision
For Watson: Richard D. Martin, SPD, Milwaukee Appellate

Holding: Admissibility of a psychologist’s (preliminary hearing, 980 proceeding) testimony that Watson’s crime was sexually motivated is upheld:

¶ 52. … While the average lay person may be able to draw reasonable inferences from facts, an expert ought to be able to show how a person’s offense relates to the person’s purported mental disorder, explaining both consistencies and inconsistencies, interpreting the person’s statements and explanations (many of which the fact finder will not have heard), and offering an analysis of whether there is a consistent pattern of conduct in the person’s experience which reveals sexual motivation and intent. The average person is simply not prepared to expound on paraphilia or other sex-related mental disorders. An expert should be able to assist the fact finder in determining the nature and source of an offender’s motivation. Judge Bartell understood this.

¶ 53. We conclude, under the standard of review outlined above, that Judge Bartell’s decision to allow 191*191 the testimony and recognize it as expert testimony on the issue of sexual motivation was correct.

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