Yesterday I finally received an update from the Office of Professional Regulation (OPR) in the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office (SoS). It turns out that they had sent me a couple of emails prior, but emails from addresses that once arrived without a hitch were apparently getting caught by my spam filter.
I appreciate the initiative by Ed Adrian to call me to get an alternate email address and let me know of the problem. He and the OPR director, Christopher Winters, have confirmed that in the future they will send me hard copy updates, in addition to email, to make sure I get them.
The upshot of the update: standard operating procedure (SOP) at OPR has been sidelined in the case that I’ve written about here, here, and here. I do not yet know whom I have to thank, but it appears someone at SoS/OPR has been listening. Here’s what I know:
Regarding the former chair of the Board of Psychological Examiners who acted as both prosecutor and “independent” expert witness, offered under oath an analysis based on a non-existent statute, and engaged in other similar unethical actions, the OPR team that investigated the complaint against her went to the Board on January 11 to recommend dismissal of the complaint. Someone, most likely someone with considerable authority in OPR (and less likely but remotely possible, someone on the Board), seems to have brought some official pressure to bear on the Board, resulting in their having departed from their standard operating procedure.
The outcome, very different from SOP, was the the Board rejected the recommendation of dismissal and sent the matter back to the investigative team for further review, to be presented to the Board again in another month or two. They will be getting a different psychologist, totally new to the case, to undertake the review and recommend for prosecution or dismissal.
That is as much as I know. Here is what all that suggests to me:
OPR investigative teams (ITs) are made up of a professional from the Board, an investigator, a unit administrator, and an attorney for the state. In order for any case to go forward to prosecution, both the lawyer and the professional on the IT have to agree that it’s warranted. If one or the other disagree, the recommendation is to dismiss. Since, in the case in question, the IT’s recommendation was to dismiss; and it was rejected by the Board and the matter remanded to the IT; and the IT is to have a new psychologist assigned to it; all those things taken together suggest that the psychologist who has been assigned to the case for the past 21 months (and was presumably a factor in why the case lay dormant for 18 months) is likely possessed of a conflict of interest.
I could rail—and at some future date, in some private place, may well—about how OPR should have made sure from the outset that whatever psychologist they appointed to the IT was unfettered, especially given that I have been like a broken record repeating “conflict of interest, conflict of interest,” for the past seven years. But I’d rather attend to what’s happening now, or at least what is appearing to be happening now; and that is that someone or ones in OPR/SoS now seem to be policing the actions of those who act under their authority. That is a good thing.
The story continues and the ultimate outcome is still uncertain, but this is a welcome, and I think important, intermediate outcome. Granted that I could be entirely wrong about what seems to be happening. But if what is happening is truly that people in power are attending to preventing the unethical exercise of that power, that is a very good thing.