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 subsequent sessions will focus on a specific legal issue and the mental health implications; for example, not guilty by reason of insanity, competence to stand trial, termination of parental rights based on a mental condition, involuntary hospitalization, or commitment of sexual offenders. Each seminar will discuss assigned readings that 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 some guest speakers for part of approximately half the seminar sessions. 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. Pre-requisite: This seminar is open only to students who have completed a course in U.S. Constitutional Law or Con Criminal Procedure (preferably both). Since the course is a seminar, students should be prepared to participate consistently in class discussions. Student preparation for and participation in the weekly seminar sessions counts for 20% of 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 15-20 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. A course packet with assigned readings will be available.

Catalog Number: LAWSTUDY 658

Course History

Fall 2021
Title: Mental Health and the Law
Faculty: Rynczak, Danielle Irene
Section: 1     Credits: 2.0
Capacity: 15     Actual: 14