All courses are predominately online, requiring students to participate in a weekly chat room, discussion board, and two, day-long weekend live seminars at New York Law School. Grades for all courses are based on chat room, discussion board and live seminar participation, a short take-home midterm exam and a take-home final exam.
Custody Evaluations, Juvenile and Family Law, and
This course will consider the full range of issues related to custody (including issues specifically related to children with special needs), adoption, marriage dissolution, foster care, domestic abuse and guardianships as they relate to persons with mental disabilities. Students will examine the special issues related to juvenile commitments to psychiatric institutions (and treatment of juveniles in such facilities); competency; as well as other issues related to the criminal trials of juveniles with mental disabilities. This course will furthermore focus on the role of problem-solving courts, and the application of international human rights principles to this area of the law. For master’s degree and certificate students, Survey of Mental Disability Law is a pre-requisite or co-requisite. For JD students, family law is highly recommended as a pre-requisite or co-requisite.
Forensic Reports, the Role of Experts, and Forensic
This course will deal with both the reports that are prepared by forensic experts for use by lawyers (both pre-trial and at trial), and with the ethical issues that are posed when such experts interact with the legal system. The focus will be on the full range of issues involving forensic experts and the mental disability law system: the rights of persons subject to institutionalization and who have been institutionalized, and the role of mental disability in the criminal trial process, in the civil trial process, in the criminal trial process, and in the family law process. Therapeutic jurisprudence implications will be also be explored, as will a consideration of the varying ethical codes that apply to the different mental health professions. For JD students, the pre-requisite is Survey of Mental Disability Law or Advocacy Skills in Cases Involving Persons with Mental Disability Law: the Role of Lawyers and Expert Witnesses or permission of Prof. Michael Perlin, Director, Online Mental Disability Law Program. For master’s degree and certificate students, Survey of Mental Disability Law is a pre-requisite or co-requisite.
Mental Disability and Criminal
This course will explore in depth the relationship between mental disability and the criminal trial process. Topics to be discussed will include all aspects of the criminal incompetency status (including trial, plea, counsel waiver and other pre-trial, trial and post-trial stages); the insanity defense; institutionalization and release policies that govern the cases of persons found permanently incompetent to stand trial and those found not guilty by reason of insanity; the right of forensic patients to refuse antipsychotic medications; the role of mental disability evidence in other aspects of criminal trial and pre-trial proceedings (including confessions and privilege against self-incrimination matters); sentencing, the death penalty (including issues involving mitigation, predictions of future dangerousness, executability of persons with mental retardation, and competency to be executed); and questions as to the effectiveness of counsel in cases involving mentally disabled defendants. Class videos will include a simulated trial of a case involving a criminal defendant with a mental disability. For master’s degree and certificate students, Survey of Mental Disability Law is a pre-requisite or co-requisite.
Mental Health Issues in Jails and Prisons
This course offers a comprehensive overview of the mental disability law issues in correctional settings (jails & prisons). Topics include the historical development of the constitutional right to correctional health and mental health care, issues involving staffing, transfer, record keeping, suicide prevention, the significance of professional standards, the relationship between correctional mental health care and community systems of care, monitoring, informed consent, risk assessment, and privatization of services. For master’s degree and certificate students, Survey of Mental Disability Law is a pre-requisite or co-requisite.
Race, Gender, Class, and Mental
Individuals with mental disabilities have traditionally been and continue to be subjected to rights violations and pervasive discrimination because of their mental disabilities. For individuals who are racial minorities and/or are women, and/or without economic means, and/or not from the dominant culture, the struggles to overcome these rights violations and discrimination are even greater precisely because of their race and/or gender and/or social class and/or culture. The confluence of mental disability, gender, race, culture, and class often result in unique legal issues that have a far reaching impact on virtually every aspect of their lives.
This course will focus on the unique legal issues that these individuals face because of these relationships. Specifically, students will examine the impact of the interrelationship of these factors, both in the context of American and international law, on a full array of legal issues affecting this population, such as: civil commitment; institutional rights; access to counsel; forensic mental health topics including: incompetency to stand trial, the insanity and other related defenses, sentencing, and related issues, and the death penalty; domestic violence; abuse and neglect; trafficking of women with mental disabilities for slavery; individual rights and personal autonomy including sterilization, the right to engage in consensual sexual interaction, the right to marry, the right to have and raise children; barriers to the availability of community-based benefits and supports and services, including mental health and general medical care; and access to public accommodations. Furthermore, students will consider all these issues in the context of problem-solving courts. For master’s degree and certificate students, Survey of Mental Disability Law is a pre-requisite or co-requisite.
This course will review contemporary public policy regarding sexually coercive behavior. A major focus will be the aggressive legislative approaches to sexual violence developed in the United States over the past 15 years. We will examine and evaluate these controversial legal approaches, as well as alternative approaches to the societal effort to address sexual violence. The course will include an examination of the current state of social science research into sexual violence, including etiology, classification, treatment, supervision, recidivism, and risk assessment. Our examination of legislative approaches to sexual violence will seek an understanding of the operation of these laws, the constitutional litigation challenging them, the legal issues currently in controversy, and an attempt to assess their efficacy as part of a system for addressing sexual violence in society. The course will address issues at a variety of levels of abstraction, examining the morality of the laws, their implications for public policy and the fight against sexual violence, as well as the practical skills and knowledge necessary for lawyers and other professionals to operate effectively. For master’s degree and certificate students, Survey of Mental Disability Law is a pre-requisite or co-requisite.
Survey of Mental Disability Law
This course is the gateway to all mental disability law courses as it provides a comprehensive look at many of the issues that will be considered at greater length in the more specialized classes, and provides the basic doctrines fundamental to the understanding of mental disability law. Students will examine the civil and constitutional bases of mental disability law in such areas as civil commitment; institutional rights (with specific focus on the right to refuse treatment); and deinstitutionalization, aftercare, and federal statutory rights (with specific focus on the Americans with Disabilities Act). Students will explore the role of mental disability in the criminal trial process, including criminal incompetencies; insanity defense; sexually violent predator laws; federal sentencing guidelines; and the death penalty. Students will also study the history of mental disability law and why and how it has developed as it has; and most importantly, why judges and fact finders decide mental disability law cases the way they do, to facilitate our predictions of future trends and outcomes. For master’s degree and certificate students, this is a core requirement which must be taken in the first semester However, if a student is beginning the program in the spring semester, then this course must be taken in either the immediate subsequent summer or fall semesters.
Some issues explored
include the following: how issues involving trauma induced mental
disabilities, such as PTSD, among others, are dealt with in both civil and
criminal courts; a special focus on children, who experience domestic
violence and abuse in foster care or in juvenile detention which results
in trauma induced mental disability and how this arises in this context
related to eligibility of children in special education under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or for school accommodations
for these disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; trauma
induced mental disabilities related to veterans who return from the Iraq
war with PTSD and end up in the criminal justice system or have civil
issues relating to their disability such as employment discrimination,
access to mental health treatment and services; issues related to women
with trauma induced mental disabilities as a result of rape, abuse,
trafficking, war and as refugees and prisoners/inmates both in the civil
and criminal context. Furthermore, the course will probe unique legal
issues presented by stigma and trauma induced disabilities and how
applying the concepts of therapeutic jurisprudence can be used to address
and hopefully reduce stigma. For master’s degree and certificate
students, Survey of Mental Disability Law is a pre-requisite or