Course Details

Mental Health and the Law

This seminar course examines the intersection of mental health and the law in various criminal and civil contexts. The first session addresses general issues concerning interaction of the two disciplines and each of the following twelve sessions focuses on mental health implications of a specific legal issue, such as not guilty by reason of insanity, competence to stand trial, termination of parental rights, or involuntary commitment to a mental health facility. Assigned readings include landmark cases and secondary source material. Seminar sessions balance philosophical discussions (e.g., tension between individual rights and governmental intrusion on those rights for social goals) with practical implications (e.g., admissibility of mental health evidence) and experiential elements. The seminar also incorporates guest speakers such as forensic psychiatrists and/or psychologists and/or individuals with experience in the mental health system, in-class exercises, and other means of augmenting discussions. The course has the following goals: - Refine students' understanding of mental health terminology, methods, and concepts. - Improve students' advocacy skills by learning how and when mental health information can be used in various legal proceedings. -Challenge students' assumptions regarding the impact of mental illness on legal status and competencies. Evaluation Method: Student preparation for and participation in the weekly seminar sessions counts for 20% the final grade, based on the quality of student contributions to seminar discussion and participation in group exercises. A final paper counts for 80% of the final grade. The paper is expected to be between 10-15 pages (double spaced, 12 point font) using primary and secondary sources. By the end of the fifth seminar, students should have consulted with me and chosen their paper topic. Students also will have the option of submitting up to four additional short papers (2-3 pages) addressing assigned readings for extra credit.

Catalog Number: LAWSTUDY 658

Course History

Spring 2016
Title: Mental Health and the Law
Section: 1     Credits: 3.0
Capacity: 15     Actual: 7