Competence Assessment for Standing Trial
for Defendants with Mental Retardation (CAST*MR)

Ages:
18 & Up
Time: 30 - 45 minutes
  • Pioneering forensic instrument
  • Widely used in courts throughout the United States
  • Committed authors who have made a difference

PURPOSE
This standardized instrument assesses competence to stand trial for persons with intellectual disabilities. Based on criteria in the U. S. Supreme Court case of Dusky v. United States, the CAST*MR has separate sections for Basic Legal Concepts, Skills to Assist Defense, and Understanding Case Events.

ADMINISTRATION
The examiner reads aloud each question and records the client's response in a booklet. A reusable Subject Form allows the client to follow along as the examiner reads the questions. The test is normed for adolescents and adults, ages 18 and up, with mild and moderate levels of severity of intellectual disabilities. Administration time is about 30 - 45 minutes.

READABILITY
Two analyses of vocabulary and syntax found the readability level to be at fourth grade or less.

RELIABILITY
Normative studies showed a high degree of internal reliability (Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .92), a satisfactory degree of test-retest reliability (.92), and an acceptable level of interscorer reliability for open-ended questions (80 - 90 percent).

FACE VALIDITY
A panel of expert criminal disability lawyers rated the items and the format favorably.

CRITERION VALIDITY
Each of two studies found significantly higher CAST*MR total scores for criminal defendants with intellectual disabilities who were competent to stand trial versus those who were incompetent. These findings, which provided replicated evidence for satisfactory criterion validity, were cited in a favorable review of the CAST*MR by Deborah K. Cooper, Ph.D. and Thomas Grisso, Ph.D. in Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 15, 347-364 (1997).

AUTHORS
Caroline T. Everington, Ph.D. is Associate Dean and Professor, College of Education, Winthrop University. Her work was cited in the majority opinion in the U. S. Supreme Court landmark case banning the death penalty for defendants with intellectual disabilities, Atkins v. Virginia (2002). Ruth Luckasson, J.D. is Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor, and Department Chair in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico. She also is a past President of the American Association on Mental Retardation.

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REFERENCES
Schalock, R., & Luckasson, R. (2014). Clinical Judgment, Second Ed. Washington, DC: American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Fogel, M.H., Schiffman, W., Mumley, D., Tillbrook, C., & Grisso, T. (2013). Ten year research update (2001-2010): Evaluations for competence to stand trial (adjudicative competence). Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 31, 165-191.

Everington, C., & Olley, J. G. (2008) Implications of Atkins v. Virginia: Issues in defining and diagnosing mental retardation. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 8, 1-23.

Everington, C., Notario-Smull, H., & Horton, M. (2007). Can defendants with mental retardation successfully fake their performance on a test of competence to stand trial? Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 25, 545-560.

Everington, C., & Luckasson, R. (2007). Competence Assessment for Standing Trial for Defendants with Mental Retardation (CAST*MR). Encyclopedia of Psychology and Law.

Everington, C., DeBerge, K., & Mauer, D. (2001). The relationship between language skills and competence to stand trial abilities in persons with mental retardation. The Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 28, 475-492.

Everington, C., & Keyes, D. W. (1999). Mental retardation: Diagnosing mental retardation in criminal proceedings: The critical importance of documenting adaptive behavior. Forensic Examiner, 8, 31-34.

Cooper, D. K., & Grisso, T. (1997). Five year research update: Evaluations for competence to stand trial. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 15, 347-364.

Everington, C. (1995). A second validation study of the competence assessment for standing trial for defendants with mental retardation. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 22, 44-59.

Everington, C. (1990). The competence assessment for standing trial for defendants with mental retardation (CAST*MR): A validation study. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 17, 147-168.

Everington, C. (1989). Demographic variables associated with competence to stand trial and evaluation of criminal defendants with mental retardation. Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 627-640.

Ellis, J. W., & Luckasson, R. (1988). Mentally retarded criminal defendants. The George Washington Law Review, 53, 414-493.



About the Authors

Caroline Everington, Ph.D., is Associate Dean and Professor, College of Education, Winthrop University.
Ruth Luckasson, J.D. is Distinguished Professor, Regents Professor & Department Chair, College of Education, University of New Mexico.