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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

More on Parental Alienation Syndrome

The October 2004 issue of Family Court Review has articles on each side of the PAS debate. According to one of the articles, proponents of PAS seems to be winning out in the courtroom:
[T]here are at least 147 articles (by over 175 authors) on the PAS in peer-review journals and 74 citations from courts of law in which the PAS has been recognized. Furthermore, in November 2000, after a Frye hearing, a court of law in Florida concluded that PAS has received such widespread acceptance in the scientific community that it warrants admission in courts of law (Kilgore v. Boyd). This ruling was subsequently upheld by a Florida Court of Appeals (Boyd v. Kilgore) [773 So. 2d 546 (Fla. 3d DCA 2000)]. In January 2002, a court in DuPage County, Illinois, ruled that the PAS satisfied the Frye criteria for admissibility (Bates v. Bates) [18th Judicial Circuit, Dupage County, IL, Case No. 99D958, Jan. 17, 2002]. In August 2002, a criminal court in Durham County, Ontario, Canada, ruled that the PAS satisfied Mohan requirements for admissibility (Her Majesty the Queen v. KC) [Ontario, County of Durham, Central East Region, Court File No. 9520/01, Aug. 9, 2002]. The Mohan test is the Canadian equivalent of the Frye test, but it has additional criteria and is more stringent.
Richard A. Gardner, Commentary on Kelly and Johnston's "The Alienated Child: A Reformulation of Parental Alienation Syndrome," 42 Fam. Ct. Rev. 611, 617 (2001).

Considering the frequency with which PAS claims are asserted, it is surprising that there are not more cases addressing the admissibility of PAS testimony under a Frye or Daubert test. Here are a few:
  • In re Marriage of Bates, 794 N.E.2d 868 (Ill. App. Ct. 2003) (noting that the trial court allowed PAS testimony under a Frye test).
  • C.J.L. v. M.W.B., 879 So.2d 1169 (Ala. Civ. App. 2003) ("Although we might, if faced squarely with the question whether evidence concerning an actual diagnosis of PAS was admissible under Frye's 'general acceptance' test, be inclined to agree with the mother and find that PAS had not been generally accepted in the scientific community, we do not need to make that decision in this case.").
  • People v. Fortin, 735 N.Y.S.2d 819 (2001) (affirming a decision to exclude PAS testimony under a Frye test).