National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy


Michael L. Perlin is Professor of Law at New York Law School and an Adjunct Professor NYU Medical Center, New York Medical College, and the University of Rochester Medical Center. He was a member of the Task Force on Legal and Ethical Issues on President Carter's Commission on Mental Health, is a former Director of the Division of Mental Health Advocacy in the New Jersey Department of the Public Advocate, and Deputy Public Defender in charge of the Mercer County (Trenton) NJ Office of the Public Defender. Professor Perlin now serves on the National Advisory Board of the Institute of Mental Disability and Law of the National Center for State Courts, and on the Board of Directors of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health. His most recent books are International Human Rights and Comparative Mental Disability Law and Lawyering Skills in the Representation of Persons With Mental Disabilities. Other books include The Hidden Prejudice: Mental Disability on Trial, and The Jurisprudence of the Insanity Defense, which won the Manfred Guttmacher Award of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law as the best book of the year in law and forensic psychiatry in 1994-95. Professor Perlin's five-volume treatise, Mental Disability Law: Civil and Criminal, won the 1990 Walter Jeffords Writing Prize and   is the indispensable authority for legal practitioners. He is also the author of a one-volume treatise on mental health law, Law and Mental Disability, has recently published a  casebook, Mental Disability Law: Cases and Materials. He is also currently teaching an on-line, distance learning course in mental Disability law, the only such course to be offered by any American law school. Professor Perlin has also worked extensively with Mental Disability Rights International, offering workshops and trainings to mental disability/human rights advocates in Hungary, Bulgaria, Estonia and Latvia. He graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University and from Columbia University Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

Professor Perlin is a prolific writer (having published well over 175 articles) and wonderful speaker. Recent articles include "International Human Rights and Comparative Mental Disability Law: The Role of Institutional Psychiatry in the Suppression of Political Dissent." Other recent journal articles have focused on the ADA and persons with mental disabilities ("Can Sanist Attitudes be Undone?"); the impact of the ADA on the rights of institutionalized persons to have voluntary sexual interaction and to refuse antipsychotic medication ("...Sex, Drugs, the ADA, and Psychiatric Hospitalization;" and "Hospitalized Patients and the Right to Sexual Interaction:  Beyond the Last Frontier?"); the inadequacy of counsel in right to refuse treatment cases; how the link made between deinstitutionalization and current widespread homelessness is mythical; "sanism" and pretextuality in judicial decision-making and the development of our laws; the insanity defense; and "therapeutic jurisprudence." His most recent Keynote presentation at  a NARPA was be "On Desolation Row: How Sexual Predator Laws Adversely Affect the Rights of Others with Mental Illness Labels Who Are Caught in the Criminal Justice System."

In his spare time, Professor Perlin plays the clarinet in the Lawrence Township Community Band. He is an avid fan of baseball and opera, and is currently at work on an article on the jurisprudence of Bob Dylan. Presentations at recent NARPA conferences include, "Annie Hall Goes to Court: The State of Legal Advocacy in the Mental Health System," "The Right of Institutionalized Persons with Mental Disabilities to Voluntary Sexual Interaction: Beyond the Last Frontier?," "Planning the Ending of a System Reform Class Action Lawsuit: How will you know when you've won?," and "Regulation of the Use of Seclusion and Restraints in Mental Disability Law."

LADDER OF THE LAW: ANOTHER SIDE OF BOB DYLAN (article on Michael Perlin & the jurisprudence of Bob Dylan, from The New Yorker, 11/18/02)