Conference Information
MindFreedom 2005 Action Conference Washington, D.C., U.S.A.
"Activism for Human Rights in Mental Health: How the Law Can Support Grassroots Action for Human Rights in the Mental Health System."
April 29 to Monday May 2, 2005
American University Washington College of Law

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Legal Track
How The Law Can Help Fight Forced Treatment 

Focus: Fight the increased use of force in the mental health system by combining the tools of the legal system and grassroots activism. Facilitators include: attorney/survivor Jim Gottstein, Director of the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights).

Results of Conference

The Legal Track decided that there are many different ways and avenues to fight forced "treatment" and working on this single action item was both the most important thing and plenty to do.[1]  For a number of reasons, including being able to utilize the resources available and because the laws involving involuntary "treatment" are state-specific the organizational structure and follow-up mechanism the Legal Track adopted is employ State Coordinators.  The key things the State Coordinators will work on are: 

 PsychRights will help with technical assistance and advice, including preparing materials for use by the State Coordinators and post state specific information on its website.  The State Coordinators will be the follow up Committee and Jim Gottstein was elected to be the liaison to MindFreedom.

State Coordinators (or people who have agreed to try and find one):

 Of course, the Track is seeking State Coordinators for all of the other states as well. 

 In addition Byron Stith has agreed to help in recruiting lawyers by contacting lawyer organizations, such as Trial Lawyers for Public Justice and Krista Erickson has agreed to co-coordinate the Legal Track.

 Measures to be Used to Monitor Progress and Effectiveness (How will we know whether we’re being successful or not?)

 The following measures were developed to know how we are doing:

Track Participants

[1] The Legal Track decided that involuntary commitment is so closely connected to forced drugging that it really needed to be included so the action item was decided to be Fight forced "Treatment."

Pre Conference Materials

Facilitator Jim Gottstein has written two articles that describe the legal setting and outlines a legal campaign against forced drugging. 

In thinking about possible grass roots activism that could be combined with the tools of the legal system  Jim has suggested the following as potential action items

  1. State Coordinators.

  2. File Ethics Complaints against the state paid lawyers who are essentially working for the other side.

  3. File criminal charges against psychiatrists for assault (thanks to Mickey Weinberg for this one).

  4. Recruit Pro Bono Lawyers to make serious cases

  5. Recruit "good" psychiatrists to serve as expert witnesses

  6. Encourage greater use of MindFreedom Shield Program

  7. Take over agenda setting of Protection and Advocacy Agencies

    1. get them to bring 42 USC § 1983 cases.

  8. Pro Se (on your own) lawsuit against Psychiatrists.

These are just some action ideas that could be explored and have been presented here to get people thinking about possible grass-roots approaches. 

Last modified 5/13/2005