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Who is Richard Shaw? Goldwater Rule explained as Johnny Depp witness and Stanford psychiatrist labels David Spiegel's testimony ‘unethical’

Dr. Richard Shaw testified as Johnny Depp's rebuttal witness in the ongoing defamation trial against Amber Heard (Image via Jim Watson/Getty Images and Shawn Thew/Getty Images)
Dr. Richard Shaw testified as Johnny Depp's rebuttal witness in the ongoing defamation trial against Amber Heard (Image via Jim Watson/Getty Images and Shawn Thew/Getty Images)

Johnny Depp’s rebuttal witness, psychiatrist Dr. Richard Shaw, testified at the former’s ongoing defamation trial against Amber Heard on Tuesday, May 24. Dr. Shaw was called to the stand to analyze previous testimonies given by medical experts, especially Dr. Spiegel and Dr. Kipper.

During his testimony, Dr. Shaw mentioned that Dr. David Spiegel violated his ethical principles regarding the Goldwater Rule when he claimed that Depp suffered from substance addiction, showed narcissistic traits, and had alleged behavior patterns similar to perpetrators of intimate relationships partner violence (IPV).

Dr. Shaw told the jury that a licensed professional would need to perform “careful diagnostic tests to diagnose an individual with narcissistic personality traits.” However, Dr. Spiegel admitted on the stand that he did not personally interview Johnny Depp before remarking and made his analysis based on video depositions.

The Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial began at the Fairfax County Court on April 11, 2022. The Pirates of the Caribbean star filed a $50 million defamation lawsuit against Heard after calling herself a domestic violence survivor in a 2018 Washington Post op-ed.

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Although Depp was not directly named in the article, his legal team claimed that the story damaged his public image and negatively impacted his career. Amber Heard countersued Johnny Depp for $100 million, accusing the actor of assaulting her on multiple occasions.


What is the Goldwater Rule mentioned by Dr. Richard Shaw during the Johnny Depp trial?

During the latest session of the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial, rebuttal witness Dr. Richard Shaw claimed that Dr. David Spiegel violated the Goldwater Rule when he testified about Depp having narcissistic personality traits.

According to section 7 of the American Psychiatric Association’s Principle of Medical Ethics, the Goldwater Rule prevents psychiatrists from giving professional opinions about public figures without examining them in person or obtaining consent to discuss their mental health in public statements.

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The Goldwater Rule was first established in response to an article in 1964 which required psychiatrists to vote for US Senator Barry Goldwater to determine if he was fit to be president. The rule mentions:

“On occasion psychiatrists are asked for an opinion about an individual who is in the light of public attention or who has disclosed information about himself/herself through public media. In such circumstances, a psychiatrist may share with the public his or her expertise about psychiatric issues in general.”

It further states:

“However, it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”
Dr. Richard Shaw testified Dr. Spiegel, #AmberHeard's expert, violated the Goldwater Rule, in his opinion about #JohnnyDepp. Dr. Spiegel had not met with JD but said he has narcissistic personality traits and was a perpetrator of intimate partner violence. @LawCrimeNetwork https://t.co/kpPCRfhytJ

In Johnny Depp's case, Dr. David Spiegel testified that he analyzed the actor’s alleged narcissistic traits based on video depositions. He shared that he attempted to meet and interview Depp twice, but the actor declined his request.

Hence, Dr. Shaw noted that Dr. Spiegel’s assessment was “unethical” and “unreliable” in terms of the Goldwater Rule, as he testified about Johnny Depp without any “careful diagnostic test.”


Everything to know about Dr. Richard Shaw

Dr. Richard Shaw is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (Image via Jim Watson/Getty Images)
Dr. Richard Shaw is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University (Image via Jim Watson/Getty Images)

Dr. Richard Shaw is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. His area of research revolves around children’s psychological issues and trauma, and his clinical focus is on psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry.

Dr. Shaw has published nearly 80 peer-reviewed papers and currently works as a professional forensic psychiatrist. He previously served as the medical director of Pediatric Psychosomatic Medicine Service at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.

He earned his fellowship at Stanford University School of Medicine in 1993 and completed his residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1989. The psychiatrist completed his medical education at Middlesex Hospital Med School in 1982.

Dr. Shaw earned his board certification in Psychiatry from the Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1991. He also received his board certification in Neurology, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1993.

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Edited by Sayati Das
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