Topic: Current shortcomings in quality of representation in cases involving civil, criminal, and administrative proceedings that improperly equate a purported “mental illness” with some issue of danger to self or others, or question of competence or capacity. Proposals for programs of improvement of currently inadequate training of legal representatives will be presented, followed by discussion of alternatives. Dr. Coleman will offer a vision that could ultimately include job opportunities for survivors willing to undertake systematic professional training as investigators.
The Goal of this presentation and discussion is to first review the sorry state of current representation of helpless and stigmatized individuals being adjudicated. Their purported “diagnosis” and their presumed “risks” or “incapacities” are established by the pseudoscientific pronouncement of one or more “experts” whose “findings” are never seriously challenged.
A plan for a long range development of first, improvement of attorney skills in current cases, followed by steps toward the evolution of training of volunteers who would be available as volunteer (unlicensed) investigators, ultimately leading to employment of survivors who move, step-by- step from trained volunteer, to trained investigator, to (in some cases) licensed attorney will be presented followed by crucial exchange of practical, realistic plans and ideas.