While my practice no longer includes Mental Health Law, my experience in these areas informs my work as a Guardian ad Litem and Mediator.
I have represented people involved in judicial proceedings under the Hal S. Marchman Act for assessment and treatment of a person allegedly abusing substances like drugs or alcohol. I have represented petitioners who want their loved one to get treatment. I have also represented the respondents who are alleged to be drug or alcohol impaired.
The Florida Mental Health Act known as the “Baker Act” provides for involuntary detention of people for mental health assessment and treatment. While most of these cases are handled by the State Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s Office, for the few who seek private representation, I have experience with these cases and issues.
As a volunteer Guardian Advocate, I took many appointments from the court in the Mental Health Division in Baker Act cases. Specifically, I assisted the person who was committed to involuntary treatment by reviewing and authorizing (and sometimes refusing to authorize) treatment and medications when there was no family or friend who could take this role. This work took me into the hospital and directly into contact with individuals with major mental illness, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers. I was extremely impressed by the integrity and strength all of them have, both providers and patients, and what it means to lose one’s dignity and struggle to find a way back to society.