Michael Welner, M.D.




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Trusted by both sides of the most complex legal cases in the United States and abroad, Dr. Welner has distinguished himself as one of North America’s top practitioners of forensic psychiatry. He has had pivotal impact on some of the most sensitive cases in America in recent years. Courts in over forty states and ranging from Guantanamo to Hong Kong have relied upon Dr. Welner to transcend the pressures of intense litigation, and resolve particularly challenging forensic mysteries with evidence-based and definitive case examination, analysis, reports, and testimony.

Dr. Welner’s investigation and interviewing skills have been consistently successful in uncovering critical new evidence, even in cases previously examined by multiple highly qualified peers. His scientifically-grounded fact finding frequently leads to resolution of cases without trial, even in the most contentious litigation. Dr. Welner is also frequently entrusted by attorneys for highly detail-oriented preparation for litigation, including deposition and cross examination of witnesses.

Dr. Welner founded The Forensic Panel, the first forensic practice in America to employ prospective peer review, in 1998 with a vision of advancing the integrity of forensic assessment by applying structured oversight. As Chairman of The Panel, Dr. Welner has stewarded and optimized its peer-review protocols as a model for others to emulate. He has published and advocated a number of proposed advances to enhance the integrity of forensic examination.  These include videotaping of forensic examinations, increasing emphasis on collateral source interviewing, and full transparency of all interview data.  In 2014, his recommendations for upgrading criminal competency assessment were voted unanimously into law by the Illinois state House and Senate. 

In addition to his acclaimed casework, Dr. Welner is responsible for a number of other innovations in forensic science.  The Depravity Standard research, incorporating input from the general public to delineate depravity in criminal acts, operationalizes an evidence-driven approach to determine the worst of crimes. Inspired by court struggles with sentencing what it terms “depraved” crimes, the project is a multidisciplinary effort to contribute fairness and a data-driven guidance to jurors and judges. Dr. Welner also designed the Clinical Inventory of the Everyday Extreme and Outrageous (CIEEO), a tool to help clinicians flag the worst of everyday malignant intent and effect in order to spark treatment approaches to detoxify the worst of non-violent human behavior. His original research has also included areas ranging from polygamist sect leaders to false confessions to drug facilitated sex assault.

For over a decade, Dr. Welner has been the leading edge of solutions to end mass killing. He has testified to U.S. Congressional subcommittees about solutions for diminishing mental health-related lethal violence and was involved in writing and development of landmark Congressional legislation proposing overhaul to the crisis mental health system in America, HR 3717.

As an invited lecturer to attorneys, mental health and forensic science colleagues and broader audiences, Dr. Welner is a forceful ambassador of forensic psychiatry and its lessons for public policy, drawing from case work and advances in science to promote original solutions for courts and the general public. Dr. Welner has also been called upon to by legislative bodies to testify on numerous areas of forensic and behavioral science, including mental retardation, juvenile criminal competency, and the effects of violent gaming.