The Mental Health Litigation Division is committed to protecting the legal and constitutional rights of citizens facing civil commitment to mental hospitals, Guardianships and involuntary treatment including the administration of anti-psychotic medications. We do this through four staffed offices and a panel of private attorneys. All of our attorneys receive training in issues relating to mental health and the statutory and constitutional rights of our clients. We also provide training to attorneys in other divisions in mental health issues.
The Mental Health Litigation Division provides attorneys for civil commitment proceedings in the District Courts and the Boston Municipal Court as well as attorneys in the Probate and Family Courts for guardianships, substituted judgment proceedings, and cases involving the validation of health care proxies. Civil commitments are handled by both panel attorneys and staff attorneys, while all of the cases in Probate Court are handled by private panel attorneys.
The Mental Health Litigation Division offers law student interns a variety of experiences and assignments, under supervision from highly experienced attorneys. The administrative unit staff also work on appeals and petitions for extraordinary relief under 211.3 to a single justice of the SJC.
Law students who have successfully completed or are enrolled in an evidence or trial practice class, with the written approval by their Dean, may represent clients under the supervision of a staff public defender in court per SJC Rule 3:03.
Interns in the Boston office work directly with attorneys on the following:
• Handling calls from patients in mental health facilities.
• Legal research on issues affecting clients with mental disabilities, including appeals and systemic issues.
• Assist in preparing trainings for attorneys representing clients in mental health proceedings.