This post has been a long time in the making. Over the past few months, I’ve had to deal with clients – and have observed other lawyers dealing with their clients – who have severe mental health problems. And each one of us can tell you that there’s nothing more difficult – or more heartwrenching – than coming to an appropriate resolution of a criminal case involving a defendant with mental health problems.
Not only does one have the normal problems of communicating with a person who may be hearing voices, or who may believe that he is an FBI recruit who has to save the world while the Russians are tracking him with embedded micro-chips, but one also struggles with the failings of a system that has no room for clients like that.
While I usually decry the heartlessness of prosecutors and judges on this blog, I have to say my experiences in this area have been to the contrary. While they don’t get in the way, they do join the defeaning chorus that reminds us of the futility of our efforts. Continue reading