THE LEGAL DECISION
Interested in working with us? Fill out the lab application (click here) and submit one letter of recommendation, sent by the letter writer directly to Drs. Zottoli & Daftary-Kapur (Zottoli.email@example.com). The number of students accepted each term will vary according to lab needs.
Prospective PhD students should apply to the MSU Clinical Psychology doctoral program, listing Dr. Zottoli and/or Dr. Daftary-Kapur as your desired mentor.
Tina Zottoli, Ph.D
Dr. Zottoli is a NYS licensed clinical psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Montclair State University. She teaches Forensic Psychology in the Undergraduate program and Psychometrics, Criminal Forensic Assessment and Psychological Science and the Law at the graduate level. Dr. Zottoli's scholarly interests lie primarily in adolescent decision making and legal competencies, and her research program is presently focused on plea deal decision making and wrongful conviction by guilty plea. In her clinical practice, Dr. Zottoli provides consultation, forensic evaluation, and expert testimony across a range of criminal and civil domains.
Tarika Daftary-Kapur, Ph.D
Dr. Daftary-Kapur is an Associate Professor of Justice Studies at Montclair State University. She teaches Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Justice, and courses on Plea Bargaining at the undergraduate level. Her interests lie primarily in adolescent decision making and legal competencies presently focused on plea deal decision making and innocence in plea bargaining. Dr. Daftary-Kapur’s secondary focus is on prosecutorial decision making. She has worked and consulted with jurisdictions around the country on their juvenile and criminal justice policies.
Ryan Schneider is a fifth year PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program, forensic emphasis. His research interests center on legal decision making, contributors to wrongful conviction and the etiology of criminal behavior. His master’s thesis examined the influences of potential trial sentence and plea discount on guilty plea decisions of mock guilty and innocent defendants. Ryan's clinical interests include forensic mental health assessment and treatment of individuals with criminal offending histories.
Lauren Grove is a fifth year PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program, forensic emphasis. Her research interests are in juvenile justice, false confessions, juvenile transfer and waiver, and mental health in justice involved populations and her clinical interests are in forensic mental health assessment, expert testimony, and treatment for justice-involved youth. Lauren is conducting a nation-wide survey on guilty plea practices in cases involving juvenile defendants.
Tristin Faust is a fourth year PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program, forensic emphasis. Tristin’s research interests are in adolescent and adult legal decision making, juvenile legal competencies, and false confessions. Her master's thesis explores how innocent and guilty mock defendants use evidence to estimate likelihood of conviction at trial. Tristin’s clinical interests are in forensic mental health assessment and treatment for justice-involved individuals.
Aliya Birnbaum is a second year PhD student in the Clinical Psychology program, forensic emphasis. Aliya’s research interests are in adolescent legal decision making, juvenile justice policy reform, parental involvement in youth legal decision making, and race in the legal system. Her master's thesis examined the impact of attorney race on parental acquiescence to attorney plea bargain recommendations in a juvenile justice setting. Aliya’s clinical interests are in forensic mental health assessment and treatment for justice-involved youth.
Julia Stratton is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Clinical Psychology program, with a forensic emphasis. Julia’s research interests include wrongful convictions, plea deals, legal and risky decision-making, and criminal justice policy reform. Julia's clinical interests include forensic mental health assessment, risk assessment, expert testimony, and treatment for justice-involved individuals.
Miguel Murillo | MA student; Clinical psychology, forensic specialization
Jamie Buren | MA Student; Clinical psychology, forensic specialization
Twisile Kalinga | MA Student; Clinical psychology
Drew Melancon | MA Student; Clinical psychology, forensic specialization
Brandon Shintani | Senior, Ridgewood High School
Kimberly Echevarria | MA student; Clinical psychology, forensic specialization
Sarah Hitchcock | MA student; Clinical psychology, forensic specialization
Stephanie Salmento | MA student; Clinical psychology, forensic specialization
Olivia Costello | BA student; Psychology
Leah Dolin | MA student; Clinical psychology, forensic specialization
Julia Donatien | MA student; Clinical psychology, forensic specialization
Jennifer Bartlett graduated from Montclair State University in August of 2022. Her dissertation explored the relationship between trauma exposure, trauma symptoms, and the likelihood to accept a plea deal when innocent. Currently, she is a post-doctoral fellow at a state psychiatric hospital conducting forensic assessments full-time (e.g., competency to stand trial assessments). She ultimately plans to work in a private practice conducting forensic assessments and providing individual evidence-based therapeutic services.
Yaritza Diaz, BA/MA '17 | Victoria Gehring, BA '18 | Rossol Gharib, BA '19 | Christina Lagomarsino, MA '19 | Sohil Malik, Edison High School | Kimberly Perez, (Ramapo College) BA '18 | Daniel Salazar, BA '18 | Elizabeth Tahan, MA '18 | Ashlyn O'Halloran, BA '20 | Rosemary Ventura, BA '19 | Ayna Virk, (Purdue University) BA '20 | Alexandra Arnold, MA '20 | Emma Jehan, MA '21 | Abby White, MA '21 | Amanda Palardy, MA '21 | Amy Albin, MA '22 | Allison Echeverria, (Loyola) BA '20 | Zoe Ferguson, Columbia High School | Olivia Kramer, Columbia High School | Kathryn Derby, MA '22 | Nicole Smith, MA '22 | Whitney Dartnell, PhD '22 | Latisha Robinson, MA '22 |
Conor Hogan graduated from Montclair State University in January of 2023. His dissertation examined the guilty plea experiences of persons charged with sex crimes. Currently, he works as a clinician through Rutgers University Correctional Health Care at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center (ADTC), providing treatment and assessment to individuals convicted of sex crimes.