Challenging Issues in the Assessment of Juvenile Adjudicative Competency

Friday, December 6 2019

ILPPP Office, 1230 Cedars Court, Suite 108, Charlottesville

Forensic Training Series

Challenging Issues in the Assessment of Juvenile Adjudicative Competency

Ivan Kruh PhD, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, will lead a one-day program on challenging issues with juvenile competency evaluation. Juvenile competency evaluations can be understood as an effort to answer five successive questions for the court. Dr Kruh, with two Virginia experts - Jeffrey Aaron PhD and Benjamin Skowysz LCSW, both with VA DBHDS -  will discuss and seek clarity on each of these successive questions and their issues. Strategies for explaining the issues in written reports will also be discussed.

The five questions are listed below with the advanced issue that will be considered:

Question 1: In reference to the capacities required to be competent to proceed, what capacities does the youth possess and what, if any, are lacking? To address this question, evaluators must adequately conceptualize and assess the youth’s capacity to Rationally Understand case-specific issues, like the charges being faced, the nature of the possible penalties, and the pleas that can be entered.

Question 2: If functional limitations or deficits were identified in Question 1, what factor or factors are causing them? A primary cause of competency-related deficits will often be specific symptoms of a mental illness or cognitive deficit related to a cognitive disorder. In some but not all cases, formal diagnoses can assist the court in understanding these symptoms or deficits. Using Autism Spectrum Disorder as a uniquely challenging diagnosis in juvenile competency evaluations, we will discuss the proper role of formal diagnosis. Another challenging potential cause of observed deficits can be reduced effort or frank dissimilitude. We will discuss the assessment of these response sets and their legal standing.

Question 3:  What can be expected about the youth’s ability to function within their specific adjudication? Competency is a contextual question that must consider the match between the youth’s abilities and the demands of the specific adjudication they will face. Because not all adjudications are equivalent, we will discuss the contextual factors that should be considered and how to assess for them.

Question 4: To what extent does this youth’s abilities match more closely to youths found competent and those found incompetent? Evaluators are often faced with pressure from the courts to provide Ultimate Issue opinions (i.e., the youth is competent or incompetent), but professional recommendations are to limit this practice. The issue will be clarified and strategies for navigating the situation will be explored.

Question 5: If it is possible that the court may find the youth not competent, what is the likelihood that the youth can attain competency through remediation services? Steps and strategies for analyzing this question will be discussed.

Participants are invited to bring brief description(s) from cases or experiences with evaluating juveniles to the program as they may illuminate issues under each question.  If a participant would like they may send the brief description - with any client-identifying information removed - to planners.  Request to do that at

Date: Friday December 6 2019 one-day program

Time: 9:25 AM to 4:45 PM. Lunch on your own.

The day's agenda will flow through the important content of the five questions:

Morning topics:

Afternoon topics:

Location: Offices of ILPPP, University of Virginia, Charlottesville VA.  ILPPP is at 1230 Cedars Court, Suite 108, Charlottesville, VA 22904.  Cedars Court is a cul de sac off Barracks Road, near Emmet Street (US 29 Business) and the US 29/250 Bypass.  There is a local bank on both corners at the entrance to Cedars Court.  ILPPP offices are in the 1228-1230 Cedar Court Center, in the 1230 Building, which is the rear building.  ILPPP entrances are at the farthest corner of the 1230 Building.  There is plenty of free parking but please do not park in spots marked 'Visitor' which are for the convenient of patients visiting clinics at the Center.  Please use your favorite mapping tools to find directions from your address.  One mapping resource provides this Mapping to ILPPP

Faculty for this program: Janet Warren DSW, Professor, School of Medicine, ILPPP introduces the program.  Ivan Kruh PhD will lead the program.  Jeffrey Aaron PhD, and Benjamin Skowysz LCSW, both with VA DBHDS, will contribute to the panel. Brief bios will be provided on the agenda.

Educational objectives:

 At the conclusion of the program participants will be able to


The following speaker(s) with this program have no personal or professional financial relationships with a commercial entity producing healthcare goods and/or services: (in alphabetical order) :

Ivan Kruh PhD, and Jeffrey Aaron PhD, Benjamin Skowysz LCSW, Janet Warren DSW.

The planning committee have no personal or professional financial relationships with a commercial entity producing healthcare goods and/or services (in alphabetical order): Daniel Murrie PhD, Angela Torres PhD, Benjamin Skowysz LCSW, Janet Warren DSW

Continuing education

Participants will receive a general certification of attendance.  Award of accredited hours of continuing education requires documentation and may require payment. 

Please see detailed information below.  Please send questions to email  Thank you. 

Accreditation and Designation Statements:

For physicians and others

This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the Essential Areas and Policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of the University of Virginia School of Medicine and Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy. The University of Virginia School of Medicine is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The University of Virginia School of Medicine and/or The University of Virginia School of Nursing Continuing Education, as accredited provider(s),  awards  6 hours of participation (consistent with the  designated number of AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM  or ANCC contact hours) to participants who successfully completes this educational activity. The University of Virginia School of Medicine and/or The University of Virginia School of Nursing Continuing Education maintains a record of participation for six (6) years.

The program is jointly provided by the Office of Continuing Medical Education of the the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

The cost is $18 for each hour of credits claimed out of the 6 total available.  An award for partial attendance may be allowed. 

For psychologists and others

The Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy at the University of Virginia maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

This is an advanced level program regarding forensic evaluation with a specialized population.

The cost is $10 per hour ($10 x 6 hours=$60).  Accreditation rules do not allow award for partial attendance.  This fee is waived for those registering at the 'Other' registration rate.

For attorneys

The course has been approved for 6.0 credit hours including (0.0) credit hours for Ethics by the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Board (Virginia State Bar).  The credits are approved to be claimed through October 31 2019.   Please request the proper form and course ID to claim the credits. 

There will be no additional cost for these credits. 

How to register for the program

Application for registration is made through your individual user profile created with the ILPPP website. Please create your profile, or get automated help to find your profile if you have forgotten your profile name or password:
After you apply for registration you will receive an automated email confirming that ILPPP has received your application. Acceptance into a program is not automatic because capacity limitations and public mental health system needs are considered. After ILPPP formally accepts a registrant  into the program they will receive a second automated email that confirms registration and includes invoice information and online payment instructions.
Before the program ILPPP will send further information to assist participant's planning. Questions about registration may go to 
Registration & Cancellation Fees and Refund Policy


Employees of VA DBHDS facilities and CSBs - $90

Others - $225

Cancellation fee - $25.00.

A full registration fee refund will be processed only if the registrant has submitted the cancellation notice to ILPPP no later than 7 days prior to the first day of the program. If registration is cancelled 6 days or less days prior there is a $25 cancellation service charge which will be deducted from the program’s registration fee. The remainder of the registration fee will be processed within 10 days following the end of the training program. Please allow 30 days following the end of the training program to receive the refund. Refunds will be processed according to the method of original payment (check, credit card or EDI-transfer).