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Michael Mark Welner, M.D., (born September 24, 1964, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is an American Forensic Psychiatrist.[1][2][3][4] He is founder and Chairman of The Forensic Panel, a forensic science practice,[5][6][7] is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine and an Adjunct Professor of Law Duquesne University School of Law.[8] He has acted as lead forensic psychiatric examiner or as a key consultant in numerous criminal or civil court proceedings around the United States, many of which gained national and international prominence.[9] Welner is known for developing protocols for forensic peer review through The Forensic Panel, as well as his research to standardize the distinction of the worst of crimes, the Depravity Scale.[10] He is also recognizable as frequently appearing consultant to ABC News, and has written a number of publications for professional and public audiences.[11]

Personal background Edit

Welner is married[12] and is the youngest of four children born to Nick and Barbara Welner. Both his parents were born in Poland, where many of their family members perished in the Holocaust. Welner's older sister, Sandra Welner, M.D., was a Maryland-based gynecologist who notably designed and patented a special examination table for women women with disabilities before she died.[13][14]

Education & training Edit

Welner attended the University of Miami, where he earned a B.S. in Biology, and the University of Miami School of Medicine where he earned his medical degree. From 1988-1992, Welner undertook his residency in Psychiatry at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan and in 1991 he was admitted to the Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Welner completed a Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship simultaneously with a Psychiatry residency training at the Beth Israel program.[12]

Professional career Edit

Welner is Board Certified in Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, Psychopharmacology, and Disaster Medicine,[7] and maintains a private practice of psychopharmacology, specializing in violence and patients who did not respond to other treatment.[7][15] In addition, Welner serves as an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, PA.

Welner has provided forensic psychiatric evaluations in consultation to attorney and judges for issues pending in both criminal and civil courts, including many which have risen to national prominence. Notable cases and investigations to which Dr. Welner has served as the lead forensic psychiatrist and/or key consultant include:

  • The death penalty sentencing proceeding of Aaron McKinney in connection with the murder of Matthew Shepard, due to his sexual orientation.[16]
  • Mental health claims made by New Jersey NBA Star Jayson Williams in connection with the killing of Costas Christofi.[17]
  • The Texas filicide of five children by Andrea Yates, and her second insanity trial.[18]
  • The psychological autopsy of champion wrestler Chris Benoit after the Georgia homicide of his family and subsequent suicide.[19]
  • The federal court competency proceeding and subsequent insanity claims of Brian David Mitchell, a Utah-based fundamentalist accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart.[20][21]
  • Proceedings of the U.S. military against Omar Khadr by a Guantanamo military tribunal.[22][23]
  • The insanity defense claims of white supremacist Richard Baumhammers, who embarked on a vandalism and mass shooting in Pittsburgh and killed six.[24]
  • The disputed confession of Patrick Free, a frequently cited appellate court opinion defining the parameters of expert opinion on confessions.[25]

The Forensic Panel Edit

Welner is founder and Chairman of The Forensic Panel, a multi-specialty forensic practice which employs peer-review of its forensic consultation.[10] The objective of peer review, pursuant to the protocols established by The Forensic Panel, is intended to minimize examiner bias by subjecting forensic assessment to the formal evaluation and scrutiny of peers, who critique the diligence, objectivity, and adherence to standards of the work.[10][26] The Forensic Panel is composed of over thirty practitioner members who provide forensic consultation in psychiatry, psychology, neuroradiology, emergency and critical care medicine, nursing, toxicology, and pathology.[27]

The Forensic Echo Edit

In 1996, Welner created The Forensic Echo, the first practitioner-driven magazine devoted to the frontier interface of psychiatry, law, and public policy. Among other original features, The Forensic Echo introduced case digest coverage, a practice that was soon followed by other academic journals in forensic psychiatry. The Forensic Echo continued publication for five years before retiring to its current online archive form, where it continues as a resource on unique complexities of psychiatry, forensic science, and law[28].

The Depravity Scale Edit

Welner has pioneered[11][29] a multilayered effort to achieve scientific-legal standardization of evil crimes and everyday evil acts. The Depravity Scale research,[30] as it is known, is research which incorporates forensic science, law, and public input; it constitutes criminal sentencing research which incorporates public opinion.[31] Through the Depravity Scale research, Welner has used public web-based surveys to weave public consensus into an evidence-driven Depravity Standard for distinguishing heinous crimes that warrant more severe punishment from those that do not.[32][33]

Welner has also devised the WIEEO (Welner Inventory of the Everyday Extreme and Outrageous), a standard for application in clinical psychotherapy to distinguish everyday evil and intent that warrant clinical attention. "Most people's lapses into bad behavior don't qualify as evil, he believes. A normal person might exhibit some of Welner's criteria — ‘choices not to remedy another's suffering,’ for example. But it would be evil only in an extreme case, such as choosing not to help someone who had just been sexually assaulted".[34]

Media consultation, writings, and commentary Edit

Dr. Welner has been a contributor to network news including ABC, CBS, and BBC and to programs such as Larry King Live, on issues relating to forensic psychiatry and criminal behavior, such as the Ft. Hood shooting [35], white collar defendant Bernie Madoff [36], false confessor John Mark Karr [37] [38], the Craigslist Killer Phillip Markoff [39], and the Virginia Tech massacre[40]. He drew considerable media attention when his remarks on ABC News’ Good Morning America regarding media coverage of the Virginia Tech rampage [41][42] sparked a discussion which may have affected the direction of subsequent news coverage [43].

Dr. Welner, is currently an ABC News Consultant, featured on Good Morning America [44], 20/20 [45], and Nightline[46]. He has contributed to ABC on topics including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s interrogations [47], Anna Nicole Smith’s death investigation [48] and domestic homicide [49].

In 1992 and 1993, Dr. Welner was a nationally visible media coordinator and spokesperson for the Ross Perot election campaign and the citizen action organization United We Stand America. [50][51][52] During the 1992 election campaign, Dr. Welner debated candidates’ representatives in support of Ross Perot’s presidential bid [53].

Selected presentations Edit

  • Current & Unresolved Ethical Challenges Confronting Forensic Psychiatry, International Academy of Forensic Sciences, Annual Meeting, July 2008.
  • Lessons in Psychiatric Resilience from Foreign Disasters, Preserving Evidence, Saving Lines, Pittsburgh, PA, March 2007.
  • Antidepressant (SSRI) Defenses: Guidelines for Assessment, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX, February 2007.
  • Forensic Psychiatric Peer-Review in Action: Capital Mitigation, And Justice for All, Pittsburgh, PA, April 2006.
  • Interdisciplinary Forensic Peer-Review in Action: Death Investigation, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, Annual Meeting, Seattle, WA, February 2006.
  • Forensic Interviewing and Police Interrogation: Learning from the Other, Duquesne University School of Law, Pittsburgh, PA, March 2005.
  • Psychopathy, Media, and the Psychology at the Root of Terror, Grand Rounds, Cooper Hospital, Camden, NJ, November 2004.
  • The Insanity Defendant: Answers in the Unexplained, Duquesne University School of Law, Pittsburgh, PA, October 2004.
  • Death Investigation and Medical Malpractice, Distinguished Lecturer in Legal Medicine, American College of Legal Medicine, Las Vegas, NV, March 2004.
  • False Confessions & DNA Exonerations: Research, and Realities, Nebraska Institute of Forensic Sciences, Lincoln, Nebraska, June 2003.
  • Evil Beyond Crime: Civil Assessment and the Clinical Reckoning of Evil, American Psychiatric Association, Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA, May 2003.
  • Sorting Out the Female Defendant: Clinical & Forensic Considerations, Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, Grand Rounds, New York, NY, March 2003.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act and September 11, Association of the Bar of the City of New York, New York, NY, January 2002.
  • The Depravity Scale: Development and Potential, American Psychiatric Association, Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, May 2001.
  • Ethnic Rage: Guidelines for Forensic Assessment, American Psychiatric Association, Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, May 2001.

Selected bibliography Edit

  • Forensic Psychiatry. Welner, M. In: Wecht C., (ed) Forensic Sciences. Matthew Bender. New York. (in print)
  • Classifying Crimes by Severity: From Aggravators to Depravity, Welner M. In: Douglass J, Ressler R, Burgess A, FBI Crime Classification Manual. Jossey-Bass 2007 pp 55–72.
  • Psychopathy, Media, and the Psychology at the Root of Terrorism Welner, M. In: Biological and Chemical Warfare Lawyers and Judges Publishing Tucson Az. 2004 pp 385–421.
  • Motives in Crime. Welner, M. In: Dominick J et al. Crime Scene Investigation Elwin Street London. 2004 pp 126–135.
  • Psychotropic Medications and Crime. Welner, M. In: Mozayani A, Raymon L (ed) Handbook of Drug Interactions: A Clinical and Forensic Guide. Haworth Press. London. 2003. pp 631–645.
  • Antipsychotics Drugs and Interactions: Implications for Criminal and Civil Forensics. Welner, M. In: Mozayani A, Raymon L (ed) Handbook of Drug Interactions: A Clinical and Forensic Guide. Haworth Press. London. 2003. pp 187– 215.
  • The Perpetrators and Their Modus Operandi. Welner, M. In: LeBeau M, Mozayani A (ed) Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault. Academic Press. London. 2001 pp 39–74.
  • The Cult of Al-Qaeda. (brainwashing and Islamic fundamentalism) Welner, M. The Forensic Panel Letter. The Forensic Echo. October 16, 2001.
  • Risk and the Power of Manson (power, charisma, and dangerousness) Welner, M. 4(2) The Forensic Panel Letter., January 2000.
  • Calming the Enemy of the State (law enforcement psychiatry collaboration) Welner, M. 3(1) The Forensic Echo. 1 December 1998.
  • Neonaticide: Immaculate Misconception? Welner, M., Delfs, L.; 1(12) The Forensic Echo. 4–10 November 1997.
  • Vincent Gigante's Next Move (competency assessment) Welner, M., Delfs, L.; 1(10) The Forensic Echo. 4–14 September 1997.

References Edit

  4. Psychiatry, the Law, and Depravity: Profile of Michael Welner, M.D.,, 22 December 2008
  5. Q&A with Dr. Michael Welner, Forensic Psychiatrist,
  6. Experts Speak Out: Seung-Hui Cho's Video 'Manifesto',
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2
  9. Inside The Mind Of Madoff,
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Burgess, Ann Wolbert , Welner, Michael and Willis, Danny G.(2010) 'Educator Sexual Abuse: Two Case Reports', Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 19: 4, 387-402
  11. 11.0 11.1 Defining Evil: An Interview With Dr. Michael Welner,
  12. 12.0 12.1 "Inside Criminal Minds", University of Miami Medical Alumni News (Fall 2008)
  13. . O'Neill, Helen, "In memory of his true love, man fights for rights of the blind", Associated Press, USA Today (June 28, 2008).
  14. Smith, Pohla, "Disabled doctor inducted into national hall of fame", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (November 8, 2004)
  31. Classifying Crimes by Severity: From Aggravators to Depravity. Welner, M. In: Douglass J, Ressler R, Burgess, A FBI Crime Classification Manual. Jossey-Bass 2007 pp 55-72. ISBN 0787938857
  32. Depravity Scale FAQ,
  33. The Justice and Therapeutic Promise of Science-Based Research on Criminal Evil,
  50. "Current American Government", Congressional Quarterly 1995 p 52
  51.'s+Vigil+Plan&pqatl=google Firestone, David, "Memo bares Perot unit's vigil plan", Newsday (November 5, 1993) p21]
  52. Clements, Ian, "State, local Perot backers prepare to bolster support, address issues" Sunday Gazette (Schenectady NY) (December 19, 1993)A1
  53. Fishkoff, Sue, "Clinton, Bush, Perot debate Jewish issues; ZOA forum with stand-ins addresses a noticible hole", Jerusalem Post (October 22, 1992 p 12

External links Edit

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