SPEAKER BIOS

COMPETENCY BOOT CAMP

DR. RANDY OTTO

Randy Otto, PhD, ABPP, is a faculty member in the Department of Mental Health Law & Policy at the University of South Florida, with adjunct appointments in the departments of criminology and psychology.  Dr. Otto has been at USF since 1989, where he arrived after having completed a two year fellowship in the College of Law and the Department of Psychology Program at the University of Nebraska.  In 2007 he joined colleagues Gary Melton, John Petrila, Norm Poythress, and Chris Slobogin as an author of Psychological Evaluations for the Courts: A Handbook for Mental Health Professionals and Lawyers, the fourth edition of which will appear in early 2018.  Published in 2015 was his book, Forensic Reports and Testimony: A Guide for Psychologists and Psychiatrists, and in press is a book he co-authored on ethics in forensic psychology practice.

Dr. Otto recently served on the American Bar Association committee that revised that organization’s Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards, and he also chaired the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Legal Issues.  Dr. Otto’s research, writing, and practice focus on forensic psychological assessment.  In 2009 his work on adjudicative competence with colleagues Norm Poythress, John Monahan, Richard Bonnie, and Ken Hoge was cited by the US Supreme Court in Indiana v. Edwards.  If not at work or with his family, he can most likely to be found at a poker table or on a motorcycle.

REPRESENTING JUSTICE-INVOLVED VETERANS

CHRISTIE BHAGELOE

Christie Bhageloe, Esq. leads the Veterans Advocacy Project in all 12 counties that Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida (CLSMF) serves. The Veterans Project assists low-income veterans by providing legal advice, counsel, education, and representation in VA-related matters such as service-connected disability claims, appeals, overpayments, rating reductions, and discharge upgrades. Ms. Bhageloe is accredited to practice before the VA and the federal Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC). She participates in Stand Downs for homeless veterans and is an active member of various veteran groups.

The Veterans Project partners with 5 Supportive Service for Veterans and Families (SSVF) agencies to provide legal services to homeless or at risk veterans. CLSMF started the only Medical-Legal Partnership for veterans in central Florida in partnership with the Viera VA Outpatient Clinic in Brevard County. The most recent community collaboration is a partnership with the 9th Circuit Public Defender’s Office, which focuses on education and empowerment for justice involved veterans. These partnerships have brought in $190,000 in funding for CLSMF over the past year.

DR. ROBERT MOERING

Dr. Robert Moering, a Marine Corps veteran, is a Licensed Psychologist within the Compensation & Pension (C&P) Department at the James A. Haley VA Medical Center in Tampa, Florida. He received his Master of Arts degree from the University of Maryland and his Doctor of Psychology degree from Florida Tech. Dr. Moering completed his Internship at the James A. Haley Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Tampa and was subsequently appointed as the staff psychologist for the Dual Diagnosis Treatment Program. He was then appointed by the Florida Department of Corrections to be the Senior Psychologist for three state prisons. He left the Florida Department of Corrections and became an Assistant Professor within the Department of Psychiatry at the University of South Florida. He is the CEO for Florida Psychological & Forensic Services, LLC. Dr. Moering has extensive experience in conducting a wide range of forensic psychological evaluations including VA C&P, Fitness for Duty, Competency to Proceed, Sanity, and Disability evaluations. He has served as a consultant and/or treating psychologist for the NFL, Major League Baseball, Florida Department of Health, Florida Bar, Professional Resource Network (PRN), Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN), Florida Lawyer’s Assistance Program (FLA), and the FAA. Dr. Moering’s research interests include psychological assessments, normative data, Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) testing, and impaired professionals. He has published on normative data, MMPI-2 profiles for Vietnam Veterans diagnosed with PTSD, and conducting C&P evaluations. He has presented a variety of topics at for various organizations such as the American Psychological Association, Southeastern Psychological Association, and the American Counseling Association.

FORENSIC SCIENCE FRIDAY

TOPHER SANDERS

Topher Sanders covers racial inequality for ProPublica.  His data-driven reporting on juvenile plea deals and the time Jacksonville juveniles spend in pre-trial detention facilities was a 2015 finalist for an Investigative Reporters and Editors award. His reporting on public records concerns and questionable behavior by Jacksonville’s elected public defender prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott to order an investigation of the office in 2013. The investigation resulted in a scathing grand jury report asking Scott to remove the elected official.

In 2016 Sanders co-founded the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit working to increase the number of investigative reporters and editors of color.  In January he and his colleague, Ryan Gabrielson, received the 2017 John Jay College/Harry Frank Guggenheim award for excellence in criminal justice reporting for their multi-part series “Busted,” an investigation of the systematic misuse of roadside chemical field tests by police.

His work has also appeared in Essence, Black Enterprise, and Newsweek magazines. He started his career at The Montgomery Advertiser in Montgomery, Alabama

BRENDAN MAX

Brendan is the Chief of the Forensic Science Division of the Cook County Public Defender Office. He and the other seven attorneys in the Division challenge forensic evidence in felony cases, specializing in DNA, fingerprints, and ballistics. Prior to this work, Brendan was a lead attorney in the Homicide Task Force, defending indigent clients charged with murder. Brendan is also a current member of the American Academy of Forensic Science consensus body that is reviewing nation-wide standards for forensic fingerprint comparisons.