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New director to lead SUNY Upstate Forensic Psychiatry; seeks community connections

SYRACUSE, N.Y. —Does a stalker fall in the psychological category of potential murderer or nuisance? Was the suicide victim mentally capable of killing herself or could she be a victim of homicide? What are the mental health risks for domestic violence?

These are questions for a forensic psychiatrist. Meet James L. Knoll IV, M.D., SUNY Upstate Medical University's newly appointed associate professor and first full-time director of forensic psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

He comes to SUNY Upstate after serving as director of forensic psychiatry at Dartmouth Medical School and as medical director of forensic services for the New Hampshire Department of Corrections.

His charge at SUNY Upstate is to increase the visibility of the university's psychiatric forensic program by helping the community deal with a litany of legal issues related to mental disorders, such as suicide and homicide cases. In addition, he will seek to strengthen the university's program to train future generations of forensic psychiatrists.

"Dr. Knoll has gained national prominence in the field and I am delighted to have him lead our Division of Forensic Psychiatry," said Mantosh Dewan, M.D., SUNY Upstate professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry. "His appointment will strengthen SUNY Upstate's community ties, enhance the education of all our trainees—from medical students to fellows in forensic psychiatry—and allow our program to attain true excellence."

Knoll has served as a consultant to the Capital Defenders Office in Death Penalty Cases and is a consulting forensic examiner for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He has testified on forensic mental health issues and has presented nationally on such topics as serial murder, filicide and murder suicide, correctional suicide risk assessment, stalkers and the insanity defense. He also served as director of the Division of Psychiatry and Law at Northwestern University Medical School and as a court appointed forensic evaluator for the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas in Cleveland.

His areas of expertise also include psychological autopsies that provide insight into the state of mind of a victim preceding death. Results of these autopsies can play a key role in settling criminal cases, estate issues, malpractice suits or insurance claims.

He is expert in providing forensic psychiatry services related to psychiatric malpractice, suicide, domestic violence, mentally ill offenders and correctional mental health issues, sanity, competency, violence risk and threat assessment, analysis of inappropriate communications and the detection of malingered mental illness (persons who feign illness or inability to work to collect insurance benefits).

Knoll enjoys community service work and hopes to form a multi-disciplinary team of physicians, attorneys, police and members of advocacy groups to promote community safety. "The insights of each team member can result in the development of strategies to help prevent violence in the community," said Knoll. "Members of the team can also be available 24/7 to offer their expertise to the professional community on issues of safety and community threat."

He received a bachelor's degree in psychology and Phi Beta Kappa honors at the University of Texas in 1990 and a medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1994.

He completed a psychiatric residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in 1998 and a Forensic Psychiatry Fellowship at Case Western Reserve University in 1999.

He is board certified in forensic psychiatry, holds certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and memberships to several professional associations and academies.

A contributing editor to the Correctional Mental Health Report, Knoll's numerous articles have appeared in peer-reviewed publications.

Knoll resides north of Syracuse.