WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. THIS BLOG HAS BEEN CALLED "THE DEFINITIVE BLOG ON MIAMI CRIMINAL LAW" BY THE NY TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, THE POPE, AND DONALD TRUMP WHO ALSO ONCE SAID IT WAS "REALLY GREAT". POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

DRUG COURT FOR MENTALLY ILL DEFENDANTS

Lets give credit where credit is due.

The Dade SAO has allowed drug court to expand to include defendant's who are mentally ill.

If the client enters and completes a drug court type program supervised by Judge White-Labora, then the client can have the charges dropped.


The program sounds good.

Mentally ill people need help.

Query: Why are we prosecuting people who are mentally ill anyway?

Why are we jamming mentally ill people into a drug court program? Certainly the statistics show that many mentally ill people self medicate and have a concomitant drug problem that needs treatment.

Would we prosecute diabetics for having a high blood sugar count?

Would we prosecute epileptics for having a seizure in public?

Do we expect Judges in Broward to know and follow the law? OK. Bad example, but still.....

Then why do we arrest and prosecute individuals who have a recognizable disease that prevents them from understanding how to act in a law abiding manner?

Simple question. Simple answer. Money. We don't want to spend the money to give these people the treatment they need. The drug court program is a nice start. We hope it works. But its a long way from where we need to be.

Good luck Judge White-Labora.


13 comments:

CAPTAIN said...

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

So you want to be a County Court Judge .....?

The Eleventh Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission has been asked to provide Gov. Charlie Crist with nominees for the vacancy in the Miami-Dade County Court resulting from the elevation of County Judge Antonio Arzola to the Miami-Dade Circuit Court bench.

All persons interested in applying must deliver a complete application and 10 copies to:

Andrés Rivero, Chair
Eleventh Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission
c/o Rivero Mestre & Castro
2525 Ponce de Leon Boulevard
Suite 1000
Coral Gables, FL 33134

The deadline for submitting an application is Wednesday, November 25, 2009, by 5 p.m.

Good luck!

Cap Out .....

CAPTAIN said...

Congrats to Judge Steve Leifman on his commitment and accomplishments in this area of the law. He has worked tirelessly for those mentally ill defendants who would otherwise have no voice on this important issue.

Let's hope that the Florida Legislature realizes the "economic benefits" of this program and provides increased funding next year.

Cap Out ....

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, while there certainly are some people who should be immediately diverted form the criminal justice system due to their mental illness, your analysis is overly simplistic. The bigger problem is that the defense bar seems to think that every defendant has a mental illness.

To the defense bar, any defendant who's feeling a bit of ennui is not criminally liable. That forces the state to lititgate (in criminal court) whether the defendant is truly mentally ill. It's just the old "boy crying wolf" syndrome ... claim that every client is mentally ill, and you'll disserve the ones who truly are.

Your hypo about epileptics is the type of hyperbole that undermines your argument's credibility. (It's also quite unlike you to posit such an illogical argument). An epileptic seizure is one in which the individual loses control over his body. That vitiates mens rea, as would true mental illness. But, when a defendant's only evidence of mental illness is that he drinks a lot (an arument I've heard frequently), that is a patently untenable argument, and it forces the state to litigate ALL mental illness cases.

Play fewer games, and you'll get better results for the clients who really deserve it.

Fake Jack Thompson said...

Fake Jack Thompson, J.D., M.D., Ph. D., D.M.D., D.D.S., D.O., O.D., D.P.M., D. Div., Psy. D., D.C., LL. D., D.V.M., Ed. D.

Dear Everyone:

All of these fruitcakes belong in a nuthouse, not wasting up our limited Court resources. I will be sending letters to Mayor Alvarez, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Carlos Martinez, Gov. Crist, President Obama and the UN Secretary General, not to mention my dear friends at The Florida Bar, requesting an investigation.

Good day to you all.

Sincerely,

Fake Jack Thompson, J.D., M.D., Ph. D., D.M.D., D.D.S., D.O., O.D., D.P.M., D. Div., Psy. D., D.C., LL. D., D.V.M., Ed. D.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Steve but, lets keep him in meetings and off the bench.

He is doing a great job but, one has to wonder why a sitting county court judge is spending 90% of his time in the legislature.

But, then, he is not in court finding everyone guilty of everything.

Funny how former PD's become so state oriented when they hit the bench.

Sentinel said...

Perhaps former PDs realize when they take the bench that the State side of the coin is reasonable after all, and in fact, often correct.

Anonymous said...

exactly, when a former PD becomes a judge and looks at the evidence and finds the person guilty you are puzzled that they followed and applied the law ? Duhhhhhh


are they supposed to give a NG verdict b/c they were a PD, what kind of foolishness is that ?

the obvious said...

Last time I checked it wasn't illegal for an epileptic to have a seizure or a diabetic to have high blood sugar.

Funny this needs to be explained to a barrister.

Rumpole said...

OK genius let me explain it to you. Then take this explanation to an adult and they will try and help you understand.

Diabetes is a medical condition that raises your blood sugar.

Epilepsy is a medical condition that causes you to have involuntary seizures.

Mental disease is a medical condition with many causes-from genetics, to problems at birth, to an absence of certain chemicals in the brain, to early childhood trauma. Having a mental disease makes you in many cases do involuntary things against the social order. For the EFFECTS of having a mental disorder- we arrest you. For the EFFECTS OF EVERY OTHER MEDICAL CONDITION WE TREAT YOU.

SEE THE DIFFERENCE EINSTEIN?

the obvious said...

It's an interesting argument you make, of course, but it wrongly assumes that mental illness has a causal effect that makes the afflicted involuntarily go out, find a drug dealer, buy their drug and then get arrested.

Good luck with arguing that before a judge that wasn't born yesterday, counselor.

And that's Mr. Einstein to you.

Anonymous said...

The Herald's article shed a positive light on the treatment of mental illness and our circuit's progressive response to it. It is quite rare to read about programs like these that are doing high quality work. We're usually reading about horrific murders involving persons with mental illness but never about the thousands of social workers, therapists and clinicians that dedicate their careers to helping persons recover.

One clarification, it is not a drug court for the mentally ill. It's a diversion program. In fact many of the defendants in the program do not have substance issues at all. What the program does best is ensure defendants access to community-based treatment and monitor their compliance. These are the same defendants that may otherwise be getting CTS or 180DCJ with no linkage or aftercare. But now, they can get connected to treatment and receive a Nolle Pros after 1yr of successful compliance. These are not games. This is severe mental illness we're talking about where it doesn't take a psychiatrist to figure out these defendants are ill and need treatment.

Anonymous said...

It just shows that PD are way better lawyers than SAOs. Any moron can prosecute.

Randle McMurphy said...

I know a schizophrenic. The radio speaks to her. Her preferred method of communication is ESP. She spent several months in the pembroke pines state hospital. In short, she's certifiable.

At the same time, she also knows it is wrong to steal, that one must stop at a stop-light, etc. Her judgment and reality may be distorted, but she is a functioning adult. Though it may be twisted, the "law" means something and still guides her. I suggest it is the same with most mentally ill. The law may have a more limited deterrent effect, but it has one nonetheless.

On a different note, consider two hypotheticals.

-In the first instance, Alex, a mentally ill person delusionally believes that his family was murdered by Brad in the distant past. Alex kills Brad out of anger and a desire to extract retribution.

-In the second instance, Alex kills Brad because he delusionally believes Brad presents an imminent, deadly danger to Alex.

In both hypotheticals, Alex acts on a delusion. But in the first hypo, Brad's murder cannot be justified even if the delusion had been real. In the second instance, Alex's delusion, were it real, would in fact excuse Brad's murder.