James B. (Jim) Gottstein
Jim Gottstein grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. After graduating from West Anchorage High School in 1971, he attended the University of Oregon and graduated with honors (BS, Finance) in 1974. From there he attended Harvard Law School graduating in 1978 with a J.D. degree. Mr. Gottstein's career has evolved from emphasizing business matters and public land law, with mental health representation and advocacy as an adjunct, to increasing emphasis on mental health advocacy and representation.
Since late 2002, Mr. Gottstein has devoted the bulk of his time pro bono to the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) whose mission is to mount a strategic litigation campaign against forced psychiatric drugging and electroshock across the United States. Starting, in 2004, Jim has made addressing the alarming and horrific increase in the psychiatric drugging of children and youth a high priority. In 2009, PsychRights launched its Medicaid Fraud Initiative Against Psychiatric Drugging of Children & Youth with its model complaint to sue psychiatrists, their employers and pharmacies for Medicaid Fraud because prescriptions of psychiatric drugs used on children that are not for a medically accepted indication (off-label and not supported by any of the drug references known as "compendia") are not covered under Medicaid. In August of 2013, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided United States v. King-Vassel, confirming that doctors writing such prescriptions cause false claims (Medicaid Fraud).
In June of 2006, the Alaska Supreme Court decided Myers v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, which ruled Alaska's forced drugging procedures unconstitutional. Myers has been called "the most important State Supreme Court decision" on forced drugging in 20 years. Mr. Gottstein has won three other important Alaska Supreme Court decisions since then. Wetherhorn v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, decided in 2007, held Alaska's involuntary commitment statute unconstitutional to the extent that someone could be committed as gravely disabled without the state proving the person was unable to survive safely in freedom. Wayne B. v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, decided in 2008, ruled the State could not dispense with the requirement of a transcript when involuntary commitment and forced drugging cases are referred to a master for hearing and recommendations. Bigley v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, decided in 2009, held on constitutional grounds that (a) if there is a less intrusive alternative that is "feasible" for the state to provide, it must provide it or let the person go, (b) a petition for forced drugging must include information about the patientís symptoms and diagnosis; the medication to be used; the method of administration; the likely dosage; possible side effects, risks and expected benefits; and the risks and benefits of alternative treatments and nontreatment, and (c) the hospital must give the person's lawyer their medical chart sufficiently in advance to allow for adequate preparation. In January of 2016, the Alaska Supreme Court decided In the Matter of Heather R., holding, based on statute, it was improper to order Heather to be picked up for an involuntary psychiatric evaluation without the Court interviewing Heather, if it was reasonably possible.
Mr. Gottstein is most known around the US and internationally for subpoenaing and releasing the Zyprexa Papers in late 2006, resulting in a series of New York Times articles and an editorial calling for a Congressional investigation. In January of 2009, Eli Lilly pled guilty and agreed to pay $1.4 Billion in civil and criminal fines for the activities revealed by the Zyprexa Papers.
Mr. Gottstein has also devoted considerable time trying to make alternatives to psychiatric drugs available in Alaska through Soteria-Alaska, and CHOICES, Inc. See, Report on Multi-Faceted Grass-Roots Efforts To Bring About Meaningful Change To Alaska's Mental Health Program for a description of these efforts.
Jim's mental health work has included:
last modified 1/30/2016
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