The Failed Promise of Civil Commitment Reform Litigation and Steps to Combat the Psychiatric Profession’s Refusal to Adhere to Legal Norms

William Brooks, J.D.

This workshop will first explore the failed promise of psychiatric reform litigation of the late 1970s and 80s. During this period, numerous courts provided in theory, numerous substantive and procedural protections that were going to provide far more protections to people facing civil commitment. The protections were more apparent than real. This workshop will explore why.

One reason is that the psychiatric profession viewed these decisions with great hostility; an infringement on their professional prerogative. In numerous ways, legal advocates failed individuals whom they were supposed to represent. Courts systems abdicated their role as a protector of rights.

Learning Goals and Objectives:

  • This workshop will explore these courses of action mentioned above.
  • The workshop will then offer strategies for lawyers to begin to hold psychiatrists accountable for their decisions to commit.
  • It will explore ways to cross-examine psychiatrists in civil commitment proceedings.
  • Explore other strategies to hold accountable those psychiatrists who wrongly commit individuals.