James B. (Jim) Gottstein, J.D.

Jim Gottstein grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. After graduating from West Anchorage High School in 1971, he attended the University of Oregon and graduated with honors (BS, Finance) in 1974. Subsequently enrolling in Harvard Law School, Jim completed his formal legal studies in 1978, graduating with a J.D. degree. In addition to 25 years of private practice, emphasizing business matters and public land law, Jim has been an attorney advocate for people diagnosed with serious mental illness for over 25 years:

  • Served as plaintiffs' counsel on behalf of the mentally ill in Alaska in the billion dollar litigation over the state of Alaska's misappropriation of a one million acre trust granted for Alaska's mental health program. See, Weiss v. State, 939 P 2d 380 (Alaska 1997).
  • Co-founded Mental Health Consumers of Alaska in 1986 and served on its board of directors for almost ten years.
  • Co-founded the Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web in 1998. The Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web provides peer-support and a drop in center for mental health consumers in Anchorage.
  • Member of the Alaska Mental Health Board (AMHB), the statewide planning board for Alaska's mental health program from 1998 to 2004, where he served as chair of its Program Evaluation and Committee and of its Budget Committee, which makes formal recommendations regarding the state's mental health program budget.
  • Supervising Attorney for Consumers Counsel, a project of the Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web that provided legal representation to mental health consumers.
  • Provided pro bono legal services to mental health consumers in various matters throughout his almost 25 years in the active practice of law.

Since brief psychiatric hospitalizations in 1982 and 1985, Jim Gottstein has advocated/litigated for people diagnosed with serious mental illness, including (1) successful litigation reconstituting Alaska's one million acre Mental Health Land Trust; (2) the Myers case declaring Alaska's compulsory medication law unconstitutional for failing to require proof the medication is in the person's best interest and there are no less intrusive alternatives available; (3) Wetherhorn holding unconstitutional Alaska's law authorizing involuntary commitment for being "gravely disabled" without requiring proof the person is unable to survive safely in freedom; (4) Wayne B., * requiring strict compliance with procedural protections before someone can be locked up and drugged against their will, and (5) Bigley* holding (a) if a less intrusive alternative to compulsory drugging is feasible, the state must provide it or let the person go, and (b) Mr. Bigley's constitutional right to Due Process was violated by inadequate notice of the nature of the proceeding and access to his medical chart. In the first of his numerous Bigley cases, Mr. Gottstein subpoenaed and released the suppressed Zyprexa Papers showing Eli Lilly engaged in illegal marketing, and hid that Zyprexa caused diabetes and other life threatening conditions, resulting in a series of New York Times articles. Mr. Gottstein has founded a number of NGOs and has served on other NGO boards involved with protecting people from and providing alternatives to coercive psychiatry. All of this led Robert Whitaker to state in his acclaimed book, Anatomy of an Epidemic, "If I had to identify one person in the United States who was doing the most to 'change the system,' I would pick Alaska attorney Jim Gottstein."

Mr. Gottstein is the founder of the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights ("PsychRIghts"). PsychRights' mission is to organize a serious, coordinated legal effort against forced psychiatric medication.

A Hero Protects America's Children from Psychiatric Abuse - an article by Peter Breggin, M.D., about Jim Gottstein, from the Huffington Post.