I represent 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 represent petitioners who want their loved one to get treatment. I also represent 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 the law and procedures, and their practical application.
As a volunteer Guardian Advocate, I am appointed by the court in the Mental Health Division in Baker Act cases. Specifically, I assist the person who is committed to involuntary treatment by reviewing and authorizing (and sometimes refusing to authorize) treatment and medications when there is no family or friend who can take this role. This work takes me into the hospital and directly into contact with individuals with major mental illness, psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses. I have sometimes been overwhelmed 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.