November 22, 2008


You are receiving this because I believe you are interested in the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights' (PsychRights®) mission of mounting a strategic litigation campaign in the United States against forced psychiatric drugging and electroshock, including the massive psychiatric drugging of America's children and youth.  If not, however, or you otherwise want to be removed from this list, just e-mail me back to that effect.

I would say 2008 has been another very productive year for PsychRights.  This is the third year in a row that we have won an important Alaska Supreme Court decision and the stay pending appeal the Supreme Court granted in another case is also extremely important.  This latter appeal has been expedited and if we are successful in getting the Alaska Supreme Court to order the State of Alaska to provide a non-drugging alternative, I think it will be the most important decision in this area of the law in 35 years.   In addition, I hope we are starting to get some traction in getting things going in other states.  Since I am not licensed to practice law in other states (and I can only do so much by myself) we need to recruit lawyers in other states to connect up with local activists, develop and pursue strategic litigation.  I feel the most important thing we have done this year is file PsychRights v. Alaska, a lawsuit seeking to stop Alaska from psychiatrically drugging children in youth over whom they have assumed control or pay through Medicaid.   If we are successful in this endeavor, it will also be a hugely important accomplishment.  Finally, as a result of a strategy developed in Alaska submitting written expert testimony against the drugging, we have been able to produce a generic Forced Drugging Defense Package that people can use around the country to present admissible evidence to judges to counter the lies told by psychiatrists in obtaining court orders subjecting people to forced drugging.
Appeal for Donations
I hope after reading this report you will agree PsychRights deserves your financial support.   PsychRights, is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization (i.e., tax deductible).    I donate all my time on a pro bono basis, and because of this PsychRights small annual budget goes a long way, and is very effectively spent.   As of this writing, PsychRights has spent $10,000 more than it has brought in this year. Our cash reserves are still over $37,000 so we are not in any imminent financial danger, but the less we have available, the less we can deploy towards our mission.   PsychRights' finances are completely transparent with information posted at

So far this year we have 33 donors who have contributed a total of $20,670.   Last year a total of 34 people donated $19,228 and the year before  48 people donated $29,203.   In addition to the total amount, it is very important that we have as many donors as possible because that matters to potential foundations.    PsychRights continues to make a concerted effort to receive foundation funding and they like to see  significant financial support from the public.  It is critically important that everyone who supports PsychRights' work give something.  Even people on disability income can give $5 per month.  People with reasonably good jobs could make annual contributions of $25, and professionals $500 -- $1,000.   Donations can be sent to:
Law Project for Psychiatric Rights
406 G Street, Suite 206
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
Donations can also be made online by going to PsychRights Home Page and clicking on the Network for Good or PayPal buttons.

There will be significant expenses associated with the PsychRights v. Alaska lawsuit to try and stop the psychiatric drugging of children and youth by the state and if you would like to make a donations specifically for this purpose, you may do so and we will make sure it is used for that purpose.

Please make a donation to PsychRights if you have not done so already this year.

Law Project for Psychiatric Rights v. State of Alaska, et al.
As previously reported, because of the unfolding national tragedy represented by the massive over drugging of children and youth with psychiatric drugs, about two years ago, PsychRights declared the situation an emergency and made address the horror a priority.  About a year ago, we learned about the CriticalThinkRx Curriculum, David Cohen, PhD, principle investigator, and we knew from that that it would be a tremendous resource when it came out.  The CriticalThinkRx Curriculum was developed under a grant from the Attorneys General Consumer and Prescriber Grant Program through the multi-state settlement of consumer fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin in order to give guidance to people making decisions regarding authorizing the administration of psychotropic drugs to children and youth.   The CriticalThinkRx Curriculum was released in mid-June 2008, and after a final attempt to get the State of Alaska to mend its ways without being sued, PsychRights drafted the Complaint (2 Megabytes), drawing 90+% of the lawsuit's scientific information from the CriticalThinkRx Curriculum.  It is hard to over-emphasize the value of the CriticalThinkRx Curriculum.

In late September, PsychRights filed the lawsuit as Law Project for Psychiatric Rights v. State of Alaska, et al., asking the court to rule children and youth have their own right not to be improperly drugged and to issue an order prohibiting (enjoining) the State of Alaska from authorizing or paying for Alaskan children and youth to be administered psychotropic drugs unless and until:

(i)    evidence-based psychosocial interventions have been exhausted,
(ii)    rationally anticipated benefits of psychotropic drug treatment outweigh the risks,
(iii)    the person or entity authorizing administration of the drug(s) is fully informed, and
(iv)    close monitoring of, and appropriate means of responding to, treatment emergent effects are in place,

and that all children and youth currently receiving such drugs be evaluated and brought into compliance with the above.

Other items that might be of interest are:

A 14 day trial is scheduled to begin February 1, 2010, with a lot of deadlines in between, but I  would like to try and obtain what is known as a preliminary injunction as soon as I can.  I need to be able to grab a chunk of time to put that together, though.   I am also always willing to try and negotiate an acceptable settlement, but that has been a non-starter so far.  It is anticipated this lawsuit will take a large percentage of my time over the next 15 months and I am trying to clear my schedule so I can do that.  It would be marvelous if some foundation(s) or wealthy individual(s) took an interest in this critically important effort and provided enough funding so PsychRights could hire a staff attorney to work on this, but failing that I will do the best that I can.

In my view, PsychRights v. Alaska, with its potential groundbreaking precedent is the most important effort PsychRights has undertaken to date. 

Bigley v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API) S-13116
Bigley v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute (API), is potentially pretty close behind PsychRights v. Alaska in importance because it seeks a decision by the Alaska Supreme Court ordering the state of Alaska to provide a less intrusive alternative to the drugging.  Mr. Bigley's history is pretty tragic in that the psychiatric system has destroyed his life through almost 30 years of forced drugging and 80 involuntary commitments.   The New York Times did a story on him in March and for those who are interested, Mr. Bigley is the person for whom I subpoenaed the Zyprexa Papers in December of 2006.   As I assumed at the time, but couldn't testify to when I was in front of Judge Weinstein in Brooklyn because I had been blocked from getting his records, Mr. Bigley had been drugged with Zyprexa under a forced drugging court order.  He was also subsequently "taken down" with Zyprexa and prescribed Zyprexa again within the last few months (but refused to take it).  

At the May, 2008 trial, PsychRights put on what it believes is an absolutely compelling case that the forced drugging is doing great harm to Mr. Bigley with no benefit.   The hospital's response was basically, "but that is what we do" (standard of care) and the judge ordered the forced drugging anyway.   We had asked for a stay pending appeal, though, and the trial court gave us 48 hours to get one from the Alaska Supreme Court, which we essentially did (API begged for more time, which we agreed to so long as Mr. Bigley was not drugged in the meantime).   The Alaska Supreme Court granted the stay because we had shown Mr. Bigley faced the danger of irreparable harm from even a single dose of Risperdal Consta.   API moved for reconsideration, complaining, among other things, that the stay "effectively precludes API from administering medication for Mr. Bigley during this, or any future, commitment periods."  The  Alaska Supreme Court denied reconsideration of the stay but, presumably reacting to API's complaint about not being able to drug Mr. Bigley during the pendency of the appeal, ordered the parties to say whether or not the appeal should be expedited.  API didn't respond, but PsychRights said the appeal should be expedited, not because of the stay, but because Mr. Bigley was going to be cycled through jail repeatedly without the requested less intrusive alternative because API was going to dump him into the streets without any supports if it couldn't drug him.  The court ordered the appeal expedited, briefing is completed, and oral argument set for December 16, 2008. 

In the meantime exactly what PsychRights predicted has happened with API refusing to help Mr. Bigley if it can't drug him, resulting in multiple arrests for being disruptive in the community with the charges then being dismissed, and multiple admissions to API with API immediately discharging him.   However, the community became upset about this and  API was pressured to do something about it and its reaction was to try and drug Mr. Bigley in spite of the stay (still refusing to provide non-drug supports).  The legal fight over that has been going on over that for the last month in Case No. 3AN 08-1252PR.  There are a number of issues in Bigley v. API, and it is entirely possible the Alaska Supreme Court won't decide in that case whether Mr. Bigley is entitled to a less intrusive alternative.  In such event, 3AN 08-1252PR is a vehicle for trying to obtain such a decision and relief for Mr. Bigley from the Alaska Supreme Court if it is not obtained at the trial court level.  

Mind Freedom Shield/Forced Drugging Defense Package

PsychRights helped developed and has always been a supporter of the MindFreedom Shield Program.  The MindFreedom Shield Program is an organized mutual aid pact whereby anyone who has signed up agrees to do something in support of someone else who has signed up and is being faced with forced psychiatric interventions such as involuntary commitment, forced drugging or electroshock.  People call the hospital, call the governor, may mount a protest march, those kinds of things.  PsychRights, of course, is about mounting legal challenges and as a result of the written testimony about the neuroleptics developed over the last year,  was able to assemble a Forced Drugging Defense Package (4.5 Megabytes) to be incorporated into the MindFreedom Shield Program.

The Forced Drugging Defense Package consists of a set of generic legal pleadings built around the Affidavit of Robert Whitaker and Dr. Grace E. Jackson's written testimony.  This was the core testimony relied upon by the Alaska Supreme Court in issuing the stay pending appeal in Bigley v. API.   A key piece of a Forced Drugging Defense Package is that it includes this written testimony as "admissible evidence" to be filed in other cases.  In order to use it in court as "admissible evidence," people must obtain certified copies from MindFreedom.   Only those who have a present need for this formal written testimony should ask for it and MindFreedom is asking for at least a small donation for those who ask for it.  A non-certified copy of the written testimony is included in the Forced Drugging Defense Package and there is a Microsoft Word version of the Forced Drugging Legal Pleadings, so that people's attorneys can easily adapt them for local use (if they bother).  For more information, go to

The idea is this set of admissible evidence can "level the playing field," a bit to counter when the staff psychiatrists come in to court and don't tell the judges the truth about the drugs and the viability of alternate treatment modalities.   Usually people facing these court hearings have no opportunity to present the truth because the lawyers paid to defend them don't, and this Forced Drugging Defense Package is designed to provide a way to present the truth to the court.  Without having a real adversary proceeding where the person facing court ordered drugging has a meaningful opportunity to present their side, the court proceedings are a sham.

Law Review Article

I published a law review article that goes through the sham nature of the legal process chapter and verse in Involuntary Commitment and Forced Psychiatric Drugging in the Trial Courts: Rights Violations as a Matter of Course, 25 Alaska L. Rev.  51 (2008).  The abstract of this article states:
A commonly-held belief is that locking up and forcibly drugging people diagnosed with mental illness is in their best interests as well as society’s as a whole. The truth is far different. Rather than protecting the public from harm, public safety is decreased. Rather than helping psychiatric respondents, many are greatly harmed. The evidence on this is clear. Constitutional, statutory, and judge-made law, if followed, would protect psychiatric respondents from being erroneously deprived of their freedom and right to decline psychiatric drugs. However, lawyers representing psychiatric respondents, and judges hearing these cases uncritically reflect society’s beliefs and do not engage in legitimate legal processes when conducting involuntary commitment and forced drugging proceedings. By abandoning their core principle of zealous advocacy, lawyers representing psychiatric respondents interpose little, if any, defense and are not discovering and presenting to judges the evidence of the harm to their clients. By abandoning their core principle of being faithful to the law, judges have become instruments of oppression, rather than protectors of the rights of the downtrodden. While this Article focuses on Alaska, similar processes may be found in other United States’ jurisdictions, with only the details differing.
I tried to weave the science (or lack of it) behind psychiatric drugs and the perspective of people who are subjected to involuntary commitment and forced drugging into the legal context.   The article identifies many places where people's rights are violated as a matter of course and these issues can be viewed as a list of appeal points that PsychRights expects to pursue if not corrected.   This article is an example of the type of analysis that should be done in other states to mount similar efforts there.  

Wayne B

One of the issues identified in the Law Review Article was the way the Superior Court has ignored the requirement of a transcript when these cases are referred to masters, which they are automatically in Anchorage.  The masters only have authority to conduct the hearings and make recommendations to the Superior Court judge assigned to the case.   As things have developed in over 25 years of the hearings being conducted in this way, the proceedings are a legal travesty with the masters virtually always just going along with the hospital and the judges approving the recommendations on a rubber stamp basis.  Our position was the Superior Court can not fulfill its obligation to review the evidence and make a legitimate decision whether to accept the masters' recommendations without a transcript.   In Wayne B, decided at the end of August, the Alaska Supreme Court agreed, although it said the Superior Court judges could listen to the recording instead of having a transcript prepared.  Professor Michael Perlin described the Wayne B decision as being even more important than the two other Alaska Supreme Court cases PsychRights has won in the last three years, Myers and Wetherhorn, because it held that proper procedures must be followed in these types of cases.


The case of W.S.B., is also currently before the Alaska Supreme Court,  There, the master closed the court file to the public even though W.S.B., elected to have the hearing open, and the Superior Court went along.  This was another issue raised in the Law Review Article Under Alaska Law, the respondent has the right "to have the hearing open or closed to the public as the respondent elects," but as far as PsychRights knows, respondents were never asked this question until PsychRights began representing them.  In my view having these hearings hidden from public view behind the locked doors of the hospital has contributed greatly to the kangaroo court nature of the proceedings and having them open to the public when the respondent so desires is extremely important.  The idea that the hearing can be open to the public, but the court file closed seems outrageous and it is hoped the Alaska Supreme Court will agree.  The case has been submitted and we might see a decision within six months.


While the state's psychiatric drugging of children and youth is the most heartbreaking thing going on, at the other end of the life cycle, the public guardian is doing the same thing to wards under its control.  E.C., is a Vietnam veteran who has been taken away from his loving wife and drugged against his will because she does not believe in psychiatrically drugging him, instead wanting to continue the holistic and oriental approaches that have been helpful to him.   As soon as PsychRights can muster the resources, it intends to file a challenge on E.C.'s behalf to get him back to his wife and allowed to decline the drugs.   This is potentially an important strategic case because of the way people are being drugged when their guardians improvidently consent.  It deserves more attention than PsychRights has been able to devote to it thus far and it is not unlikely E.C. will have ultimately been killed by his guardian through its administration of these drugs before PsychRights can get him relief.
PsychRights' State Coordinator System

>From its inception, PsychRights' mission has been national in scope.  In order to work outside of Alaska it needs to mount similar campaigns to the types of cases in Alaska described above and previously undertaken.   Since the only state in which I am licensed to practice law is Alaska, and especially because there is only so much one person can do, PsychRights needs to assemble (organize) resources in other states to mount the strategic challenges to forced drugging and electroshock in them.  Lawyers must, of course, be recruited and, in addition to that, there needs to be knowledgeable local people, presumably activists, who can help develop the strategy, help recruit lawyers and expert witnesses, and find appropriate cases.   There are a number of possibilities for recruiting lawyers, such as the Protection & Advocacy (P&A) agencies, local chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, etc., and getting lawyers to devote pro bono time in the effort.  In all cases, it is felt that a memo describing the situation, including legal analysis, in a way that makes lawyers believe it is a worthwhile effort is necessary. 

If you want to help in your state, please e-mail me back 

New York

George Badillo recently agreed to be PsychRights' New York Coordinator.  George is a well-known New York psychiatric survivor/activist.  What might not be well-known is that he refused to promote the psychiatric drugging of children as ordered to by his supervisor and lost his job as a result. 

Ann L. MindFreedom Shield Alert/Attorney Recruitment.  Ann L. has a MindFreedom Shield and activated an alert in August when faced with an outpatient commitment continuation effort.  This became the occasion for PsychRights to launch a pro bono recruitment effort in New York, including isssuing a Preliminary Memo about outpatient commitment in New York.  Aaron Frishberg, agreed to represent Ann L. on a  pro bono basis, but it can't be said that was a result of the Preliminary Memo because Aaron was already on board with the general effort and does as much pro bono work as he can in this area.   The Ann L case is ongoing  with a jury trial coming up early next year and I'm sure Ann L will appreciate your support when it comes up.  PsychRights needs to follow-up on the pro bono attorney recruitment effort in New York.
Esmin Green.  Most of you probably know about Esmin Green's horrific death from a blood clot in her leg while waiting in the Psychiatric Emergency Room of King County hospital for over 24 hours.   When we saw that report we wondered whether psychiatric drugs might be implicated in her death and we found that, in fact, they were probably the cause.  PsychRights issued a News Release about this and wrote to the Chief Medical Examiner about it.  The Medical Examiner refused to even look into it, however, and PsychRights was not in a position to follow-up any more.  However, there is a group of activists in New York, calling themselves, "we the people," who have continued to advocate for reforms around the Esmin Green tragedy.

PsychRights has identified at least a dozen potential activists in California who are interested in PsychRights' work, but doesn't yet have a state coordinator.   There is also someone at a P&A agency willing to try and help get some support there and I just realized I dropped the ball on following up on that.  Interest has also been expressed in forming a PsychRights California non-profit, but that hasn't yet moved forward.  
PsychRights worked for years with the Freedom Center in Northampton, Massachusetts, including issuing a memo in 2004 about  forced drugging in Massachusetts, called Rogers Orders, and another one about Potential Strategies in 2007, aimed at suggesting approaches for the lawyers assigned to these cases in Massachusetts, who are hired by the Massachusetts Mental Health Litigation Unit (MHLU).  The MHLU, led by Stan Goldman, has the best training of which I know and Mr. Goldman is very earnest about getting people good representation.  Mr. Goldman reports MHLU's attorneys win 20-30% of their cases, which is way more than in other states I think.   However, there are a number of structural problems with getting good representation and MHLU can not develop a strategic litigation effort since its mandate is only to provide individual representation.  The Freedom Center has had changes in participants and seem to have moved away from this type of advocacy.  Aby Adams used to be at the Freedom Center and PsychRights' Massachusetts state coordinator, but has moved on.  As a result, PsychRights is looking for a new Massachusetts State Coordinator. 
PsychRights is also in contact with a number of activists in Virginia and may be able to announce a Virginia State Coordinator in the near future.  In 2007 PsychRights was approached by local activists about the Mental Health Commission which was wired to recommend some draconian legislation and wrote a Memo about them, including their unconstitutionality. 
Daniel Hazen - Northeast Coordinator
Finally, last, but certainly not least, PsychRights contracted with Daniel Hazen, a psychiatric survivor, on a very part time basis to provide services as its Northeast Coordinator.  In addition to his part-time contract as PsychRights' Northeast Coordinator, Daniel is active working as a human rights activist, advocate, organizer, nationally and internationally. He is also active on the Board of Directors of the U.S. Human Rights Network, and the Center for the Human Rights of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, Inc.  As it has turned out so far, Daniel has mainly served as PsychRights' emissary to various meetings and conferences and by all reports has done so very well.

James B. (Jim) Gottstein, Esq.

Law Project for Psychiatric Rights
406 G Street, Suite 206
Anchorage, Alaska  99501
Phone: (907) 274-7686)  Fax: (907) 274-9493

            Law Project for
       Psychiatric Rights

The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights is a public interest law firm devoted to the defense of people facing the horrors of forced psychiatric drugging.  We are further dedicated to exposing the truth about these drugs and the courts being misled into ordering people to be drugged and subjected to other brain and body damaging interventions against their will.  Extensive information about this is available on our web site, Please donate generously.  Our work is fueled with your IRS 501(c) tax deductible donations.  Thank you for your ongoing help and support.