Dr. Alissa Sherry recently testified in the Alex Jones and Kelly Jones custody case. Her testimony was highlighted on a number of national and local news media sites including the Huffington Post, The Daily Beast , and the Austin American Statesman . High profile custody cases can be particularly difficult and expensive cases to litigate. They tend to draw a lot of media attention as has been seen in the custody battle of celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina JolieAlec Baldwin and Kim Basinger,  and Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller/Denise Richards.

However, while such cases draw a lot of public interest, many of the issues found in high profile custody cases are similar to custody cases that do not garner such media attention.  Issues like substance abuse, mental instability, child abuse, and parental alienation are common themes in high conflict custody battles. At the end of the day, celebrities are not much different than the average person who finds themselves embroiled in one of these family law matters. Yet, the public interest in these cases can sensationalize their stories to make their situations sound unique to only the rich and famous.

Dr. Alissa Sherry will be part of a panel presentation in Traverse City, Michigan discussing the legal and psychological issues surrounding the concept of parental alienation. It is being hosted by the Grand Traverse-Leelanau-Antrim Bar Association and will be held on May 24, 2017 at 11am.

She will be presenting along with Judge Melanie D. Stanton, Probate/Family Division Judge-Grand Traverse, and attorney Ashish S. Joshi, Ann Arbor, MI.  It is an honor for Dr. Sherry to be on the panel with these two accomplished professionals.

In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, the Legal Consensus team will be working remotely at times. Because we are working remotely we have decided to downsize the physical space. You can find us at 4000 Medical Parkway, Suite 205, Austin, TX 78756. We are located near Central Market and have plenty of parking. We are also conveniently located near the 803 Metro Rapid Bus route. Here is a great article if you are interested in reducing your carbon footprint.

25+ Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

This month, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson has faced some tough scrutiny over her decision to to jail a mentally ill rape victim in an effort to insure her testimony against her rapist. Three issues come to mind when considering the facts surrounding this decision. First, the fact that jail appears to be the only available option to keep an innocent, vulnerable individual safe should be a real concern for everyone in society. Second, there appears to be a fundamental lack of empathy by the DA’s office regarding the victim in this case. It is possible the victim’s mental illness is at the core of lack of empathy, as fear and misunderstanding of mental illness tend to cause people to objectify people with mental illness and treat them less humanely. Finally, despite the post-Cosby conversation about rape victims, there remains a suspiciousness and mistrust of rape victims’ intentions and motives. Just last week, Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky asked for a transfer from criminal to civil court duty following outcries by activists who thought the 6-month sentence he imposed on a rapist was too lenient. The victim in this case was unconscious and the rapist was chased down by observers indicating that he knew what he was doing was wrong. In each of these cases, pinpointing where the disconnect lies in the institutional understanding of the rape victim experience is multifaceted, culturally, and historically informed. However, the media’s efforts to bring these stories to the public for scrutiny is a step in the right direction.

The Chicago Tribune reported this week on a woman who recently lost custody of her three children. Amanda Ware was convicted of child endangerment following the drowning death of her first three children in 2003 at the hands of her then boyfriend Maurice LaGrone, Jr. This is a very complicated case in that there are no current allegations that her three living children are in immediate danger. Rather, the concern appears to be that Ms. Ware has not accepted her role in the deaths of her first three children, instead referring to it as an ‘accident.’ As a result, the fear is that this lack appreciation may contribute to poor judgment in her future parenting decisions. The therapist in this case initially testified that Ms. Ware should regain custody of her children, but then changed her mind on the stand, apparently only at that time hearing about Ms. Ware’s past for the first time. This case highlights just how complex family law and child safety can be.

In her commencement address at Florida International University on May 11, 2016, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice spoke to graduates about the importance of group diversity in policy and decision making. Specifically, she said, “By now, we should all know the dangers of “groupthink,” where folks who are alike often think alike. By contrast, groups comprised of different people tend to question one another’s assumptions, draw on divergent perspectives and experiences, and yield better outcomes. Whether we’re confronting ISIL or Ebola, cybersecurity or climate change, solving today’s multifaceted global challenges demand more varied viewpoints and experiences than ever. Intelligence analysts, diplomats and military officers who are native speakers may pick up subtle nuances that might otherwise go unnoticed. Diplomats who can read cultural cues may better navigate the political and social currents of a foreign nation. In sum, leaders from diverse backgrounds can often come up with more creative insights, proffer alternative solutions, and thus make better decisions.”

The Central Intelligence Agency now has something in common with Legal Consensus: a recognition of a decade’s worth of science that shows that diverse groups make better judgments. A review of the CIA’s thinking can be found in Overt Action, a nonpartisan blog analyzing current issues that impact national security and intelligence. An interesting study profiled in the article is that racial diversity within three-person teams were better able to solve murders than homogeneous racial groups. The reason is because people from different backgrounds bring a diverse set of experiences to the analytic table. Because of this, consensus is not automatic. It takes more deliberation and work because so many more different ideas need to be considered and vetted. This protects against the groupthink bias and leads to better decision making in groups. When the use of base rate data, probabilities, and other scientific anchors are added, prediction rates of outcomes exceed those of so-called “experts” that do not work in groups or use such scientific anchors. In fact, non-experts who use these scientific approaches have consistently been shown to exceed industry identified experts that do not use these scientific approaches. Legal Consensus welcomes the CIA to the scientific club!

Legal Consensus welcomes the addition of our new postdoctoral fellow, Ryan Sutton, Ph.D. A graduate of both Howard University and Xavier University, Dr. Sutton comes to us most recently from the Child Guidance Clinic located in the D.C. Superior Court of Washington D.C. Dr. Sutton has extensive experience conducting psychological assessments as was the 1st place Research Award Winner for the Research Association of Minority Professors. As such, he will be working with Legal Consensus as both capacities as an expert in psychological assessment and heading up our research program. We are grateful to have him through the support of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement located at the University of Texas at Austin.

Our new, responsive website is ready and we’re thrilled to share it with you. We appreciate you visiting and always welcome your feedback. If you have any website, branding or other marketing or advertising needs, we strongly recommend contacting the fine folks at mixtape marketing: www.mixtapeagency.com / 512.981.7155

Legal Consensus welcomes the addition of our new Office Manager and Administrative Assistant, Beth Prasse. Coming from an accounting background, we are so pleased to have her in charge of our invoicing process and the general ins and outs of the office. If you have any administrative needs, please do not hesitate to contact her.

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