The man who did psychological evaluations of children involved in divorce cases in San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange counties, guiding the courts in determining custody, and whose recommendations controlled the fate of thousands of individuals for over a decade took his own life earlier this year.
The death of Dr. Roy W. Bradbury, who was a court appointed expert for so-called 730 evaluations, has thrown into question the validity of the determinations that were made in hundreds of divorce cases in San Bernardino County.
Bradbury worked with lawyers, known as minor counsels, who were appointed by the court to represent children caught in the middle of the divorce of their parents.
Bradbury admitted under oath that he had lacked the proper licensing updates with regard to domestic violence since 2003.
Those minor counsels would recommend interviews with and reports on the children, known as 730 evaluations, to determine the child’s state of mind, preference toward one parent or the other and to make an evaluation as to which parent should get primary custody of the child.
For his work, Bradbury was paid $120 per hour, or in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000 for each 730 evaluation he delivered.
In virtually all cases in which Bradbury was brought in as an expert witness, the court made a custody decision in accordance with his recommendations.
Bradbury was deemed so credible, that judges routinely overlooked contradictory opinions rendered by other psychologists or evaluators brought in on the same cases.
For years, however, critics have alleged that Bradbury was capricious, arbitrary or biased in his findings and that he in fact lacked the requisite training and licensing to function in the role of an expert psychological witness.
Within the last 12 months, evidence to undergird those accusations emerged. In September 2009, according to court records, Bradbury admitted under oath that he had lacked the proper licensing updates with regard to domestic violence since 2003. Such a lack of credentials rendered him unqualified under the family law code to serve as an evaluator.
Despite Bradbury’s possession of a PhD. in psychology from USC, he was unable to pass the state of California’s licensing exam as a psychologist.
Earlier this year, as information about his lack of training and his fraudulent licensing spread, rumors were rife that Bradbury was on the verge of departing the United States and seeking some form of refuge in Costa Rica.
A little more than two months ago, he died by his own hand. His action in taking his own life brings into question his own mental stability, and by extension, the validity of the thousands of conclusions he provided about the mental state of others.
On Saturday May 29, according to the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office, Bradbury who resided in Walnut, drove to an industrial park in the city of Industry. There, at 21508 Ferrero Parkway, a spot secluded by railroad tracks and relatively isolated and remote buildings, Bradbury shot himself while in his vehicle.
According to the coroner’s office, Bradbury expired from a single gunshot wound to the head.
Since that time, questions about his level of competency, his bias and his tendency to make findings that were considered damaging to children have mushroomed. That adverse publicity may have played a role in the more recent revelations about his lack of accreditation.
Despite those revelations, San Bernardino County Superior Court has maintained Bradbury on its experts list for psychologists.
In one case, an eight year old girl was removed from the custody of her mother. Subsequently, tapes of Bradbury’s sessions with the girl surfaced in which Bradbury could be heard screaming at the child. One counseling professional who has heard the tapes told the Sentinel the tapes demonstrated Bradbury was mocking a child under stress and was not engaged in a therapeutic relationship with his client.
In the aftermath of his death, dozens of Bradbury’s 730 evaluations are due for consideration in various courts in Southern California. Motions to strike several of those evaluations as evidence are now being prepared.
Source: “Suicide Claims Bradbury,” San Bernardino County Sentinel, August 6, 2010.