Developments in Mental Health Law

Articles from Vol. 23, No. 1, January

ADA Expands Range of Individuals That May Be Entitled to Medicaid Funded Home and Community Based Health Care
The Ninth Circuit joins many other courts that have grappled with the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its impact on Medicaid waiver programs. The state of Washington participates in the federal Medicaid program that provides...
Ake Independent Mental Health Expert Requirement Not Met by Appointment of a Mental Health Professional from Court's Psychiatric Center
The Sixth Circuit ruled a defendant convicted of murder and sentenced to death had been denied his right to psychological assistance and effective assistance of counsel during the sentencing phase of his trial and remanded the case for a new penalty...
Attorneys' Fees Available When Executor or Trustee Engages in Undue Influence
In New Jersey, a wealthy unmarried woman placed her assets in three trusts. She named as beneficiaries a foundation and her brother, who was two years younger than his sister. A long-time friend was named as trustee. However, the woman, who had dementia...
Child Testimony Via Closed-Circuit Testimony Upheld
The Virginia Court of Appeal upheld a Virginia statute that allows victims of child sexual abuse to offer trial testimony via closed-circuit television. In rejecting the defendant's Sixth Amendment challenge, the court noted the statute appropriately...
Death Penalty Reversed Because Counsel Did Not Conduct "Reasonable" Investigation of Defendant's Childhood History
Under the Sixth Amendment, a criminal defendant is entitled to the "effective assistance" of an attorney. In a Maryland case, the Supreme Court ruled a capital defendant received ineffective assistance of counsel when his lawyers failed to conduct...
De Facto Therapist-Patient Relationship Necessary for Medical Malpractice Claim May Have Existed When Psychologist Gave Employee Advice on Family Problems
An Indiana appeals court ruled a therapist-patient relationship may have existed between a psychologist and a woman who worked as an employee in the clinic of which the psychologist was half-owner. During her employment, the woman sought advice about...
Developmentally Disabled Adults Not Entitled to ICFs near Their Parents' Homes
In Illinois, several developmentally disabled adults lived at home with their parents in the Chicago metropolitan area. Their parents preferred that their children live in Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs). Most of these facilities, however, are...
Expert Testimony Based on Grisso Protocol Excluded under Daubert and Confession of Fourteen-Year-Old Defendant Admitted
The Appellate Court of Connecticut ruled a trial court properly excluded expert testimony regarding the nature of a juvenile's confession and concluded the juvenile had knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived his privilege against self-incrimination....
Fired Employee Entitled to FMLA Leave If Change in Behavior Sufficient to Notify Reasonable Employer That Employee Mentally Unable to Work or Give Notice of Need for FMLA Leave
The Seventh Circuit ruled an employee should have been given leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) rather than being fired if a change in the employee's behavior was sufficient to notify a reasonable employer that the employee (1) had...
Fourth Circuit Rejects Argument Capital Defendant Received Ineffective Assistance of Counsel on Voluntary Intoxication and Insanity Defenses and Alford Plea
The Fourth Circuit rejected a Virginia capital defendant's argument he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel allegedly failed to adequately investigate and advise the defendant on a voluntary intoxication defense, an insanity defense,...
Hospital Not Liable for Disappearance of Mentally Ill Daughter Even Though Mother Only Left Her Alone for 45-Minute Meeting with Counselor Because Nurse Promised to Look after Daughter
A Washington Court of Appeals ruled that a hospital could not be held liable for the promise made to a mother by a nurse to look after her mentally ill 15-year-old daughter while the mother conferred with a counselor. The family's physician had arranged...
Megan's Law: Branding Juveniles as Sex Offenders
I. Introduction Triggered by public sentiment following a number of well-publicized sexual assaults on children by convicted sex offenders released back into the community and spurred by federal incentives, legislatures across the nation passed...
Mental Health Facility That Closes May Have to Give Employees 60-Days Notice
The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) has been applied to the rapid closure of a mental health care facility near Detroit. WARN requires that workers be given 60 days notice of a mass layoff unless closure followed "unforeseeable...
Missouri Jury Finds Two Psychologists Breached Duty to Warn of Danger of Child Abuse and Awards $5 Million in Damages
A jury found two Missouri psychologists failed to meet their common law duty to warn when there was a danger of child abuse to a readily identifiable victim and awarded $5 million in damages. The suit was brought by a 27-year-old woman who claimed...
Missouri Supreme Court Bans Execution of Juvenile Offenders
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the execution of defendants who were juveniles when they committed their offense is barred by the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Applying the analysis used by the U.S. Supreme Court...
Missouri Woman Confined as Sexual Predator Ordered Released
The only woman ever confined in Missouri under that state's violent sexual predator law, and one of the few in the nation, has been released. The 27-year-old woman, Angela Coffel, was sentenced in 1995 to a five-year term after being convicted of two...
Oklahoma May Violate the ADA by Imposing a Five-Prescription per Month Cap on Medicaid Recipients Receiving Services at Home
Oklahoma may be violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by imposing a five-prescription per month cap on Medicaid recipients who receive their state-funded services at home rather than in a nursing facility. Oklahoma, as part of an optional...
Psychiatrist as HMO Team Leader May Be "Treating Source" Whose Opinion Is Entitled to Greater Weight in Social Security Disability Determination Even Though Psychiatrist Has Minimal Patient Contact
The Ninth Circuit held that the lead psychiatrist on a patient's managed care treatment team may be considered a "treating" source whose opinions are entitled to greater weight in Social Security disability proceedings even though the psychiatrist...
Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee.... I served as chair of the Committee on Developing a Strategy to Reduce and Prevent Underage Drinking of the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. The National Research...
Ruling That Alcoholism and Intoxication Do Not Require Special Capital Sentencing Jury Instruction Identifying Them as Mitigating Factors Not Disturbed
The Supreme Court declined to review a Fifth Circuit ruling that upheld the capital sentence of a Texas man. The defendant argued in part that the trial court was required to identify alcoholism or evidence of intoxication at the time of the offense...
Ruling That School System's Response to Student's Behavioral Difficulties Was Adequate under IDEA Not Disturbed
The Supreme Court declined to review a ruling of the Eighth Circuit that a school district provided an eleven-year-old boy with a long history of mental illness the free appropriate public education required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education...
Virginia Enacts Civil Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators Legislation during 2003 General Assembly
Sixteen states, including Virginia, have laws providing for the civil commitment of sexually violent predators (SVP). (1) Virginia's SVP law was initially enacted in 1999 (2) but funds for the program were not appropriated and the law did not become...