Emily Lazarou

Tampa Bay Times
Pinellas judge: Controversial psychiatrist can testify in Jonchuck case
By Dan Sullivan
December 10, 2018

A forensic psychiatrist who has been criticized for being “biased and coercive” in her evaluations of criminal defendants will remain as an expert witness in the case of John Jonchuck, who is accused of dropping his 5-year-old daughter off a bridge.

Over vocal objections from defense attorneys, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Christine Helinger said Monday there was no need for a hearing on whether to boot Dr. Emily Lazarou from the case.

“What you’re suggesting is that she’s a horrible psychiatrist,” Helinger said. “That’s for a jury to determine.”

Jonchuck’s public defenders had pushed to exclude Lazarou from testifying in his trial. They argued that her methods for evaluating defendants are unprofessional and unreliable, that she often sympathizes with victims, and that her opinions could mislead a jury.

“She is so much of a loose cannon that the court cannot put her on the stand,” Assistant Public Defender Jessica Manuele said in court…

The defense consulted another forensic psychiatrist, who reviewed Lazarou’s evaluation and concluded that she was “coercive, judgmental, and leading,” in her questioning of Jonchuck…