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Stigma in the Law and the Impact on the Forensic Mental Health Evaluation

February 23, 2023 | 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM PST

1.5 Hours | $100 USD

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Michael Perlin, JD and Heather Ellis Cucolo, JD present a live professional training program on Stigma in the Law and the Impact on the Forensic Mental Health Evaluation in partnership with the Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates.

Stigma is best referred to as an aspect of “sanism.” Sanism is an “irrational prejudice of the same quality and character as other irrational prejudices that cause, and are reflected in, prevailing social attitudes such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and ethnic bigotry.”

It reflects discrimination on the basis of one's mental state or condition and is a pervasive stigma that befalls persons with mental disabilities that permeates the legal process. It affects all participants in the mental disability law system, including litigants, fact finders, counsel, and expert and lay witnesses, and its corrosive effects have warped all aspects of mental disability law, involuntary civil commitment law, anti-discrimination law, institutional law, tort law, and all aspects of the criminal process.

Especially key here is the relationship between stigma/sanism and trauma in the context of the forensic mental health evaluation. The best remedy for rooting out stigma in the law (in the context of sanism) is a turn to therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ), a school of thought that therapeutic recognizes that, as a therapeutic agent, the law can have therapeutic or anti-therapeutic consequences, and asks whether legal rules, procedures, and lawyer roles can or should be reshaped to enhance their therapeutic potential while not subordinating due process principles Central to TJ are commitments to compassion and dignity, a focus on the quality and effectiveness of counsel, and, for the purposes of this webinar, a special focus on interactions between expert witnesses and those subject to court procedures.

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