Lately there have been a disturbing number of news reports about mentally-ill people being shot by police. The need for better training of police to deal with the mentally ill has been amply covered by other blogs. But mentally-ill people who survive their encounter with law enforcement have a chance for better treatment from the court system – and that’s where this blog comes in.
Back in 2008 we touched on two different aspects of court procedure involving people with mental health problems. A court system’s involvement with a mentally ill person may occur when the person is facing involuntary … Read More
Are you being threatened with domestic violence, harassed, or stalked? Do you know someone who is? Every state has some form of legal order that requires someone to stay away from you or your home, stop contacting you, and stop sending you gifts. These orders may be called Order of Protection, Protective Order, Restraining Order, No-Contact Order, or a similar name. The order is not automatic; the person seeking the order must appear before a judge and present evidence of threats or abuse. If the judge issues the order, a person who violates the order may be arrested.
The procedure … Read More
Bad checks are an expensive and frequent problem for merchants, and even for private individuals on occasion. If you accept a check from someone and it bounces, it may have been an honest mistake; if so, the check writer might re-imburse you as soon as you ask. But if that doesn’t happen, how do you get your money?
It may be difficult, even if you’ve taken the precaution of verifying the check-writer’s identification. You can sue, but that will take a while and cost you time and money in the meantime. To convict the check writer of a crime, the … Read More
Problem-Solving Courts – also known as Accountability Courts – are programs developed by many court systems to impose treatment plans and other forms of rehabilitation on some criminal offenders who would otherwise face jail time and the stigma of a criminal record. They reduce the judicial system caseload and the prison population while helping offenders with drug, mental health, and similar problems. We covered Mental Health Courts in April 2008, Drug Courts in October 2008, and Veterans Courts in January 2011.
Family Dependency Treatment Courts are another type of Accountability Court, and they’re different in that their treatment plans include … Read More
With the Trayvon Martin case, including the recent second degree murder charges against George Zimmerman making national news, violent crime is at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. The Martin/Zimmerman case has raised questions about who the true victim really was. Although we may not know the answer to that question until the case has been resolved, unfortunately there are thousands of crimes committed every day, leaving victims to deal with the aftermath. Often there is so much focus on the perpetrators of crime that the victim gets somewhat left behind by court systems. However, more and more courts are … Read More
If you’ve watched more than a handful of crime dramas on TV, you’re familiar with the Miranda warning given when someone is arrested. The exact words may vary a little from state to state, but it’s usually very close to this:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in court. You have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees (among other things) that no person may be compelled … Read More
For anyone facing involvement with the legal system for the first time, thoughts may immediately turn to lawyers. We’ve already addressed such questions as “Do I need a lawyer?” and “Can I get a lawyer for free?” and we covered lawyer referral services as well.
For those who don’t want to “go it alone” but don’t qualify for free services and can’t afford complete representation, there is another option. Limited-scope representation – also known as “unbundling” or “limited-assistance representation” – is growing in popularity. You and your lawyer agree to split up the tasks involved in … Read More
When shopping for services, the best way to find a good provider is to ask friends and acquaintances for recommendations. “Say, Bob, do you know a good plumber?” works well for services that many people use. But what do you do when you need a service that many of your friends and acquaintances haven’t used? For example, a lawyer.
If no one you know can recommend a lawyer – or recommend one for your particular legal issue – you’ll need to find one on your own. Fortunately, there is an organization that can help you choose: your local bar association. … Read More
Specialized courts, whether separate entities or divisions of other courts, handle specific types of cases. They are designed to dispense justice efficiently by maintaining expertise in a particular area, following a procedure tailored to their subject matter, collaborating with other government agencies, or a combination of these approaches.
Specialized courts may be set up not to simply to determine guilt and punishment, but to arrange and supervise treatment for people with mental health or substance abuse problems. Examples of these “accountability” or “collaborative” courts are Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts, and Veterans Courts.
Other specialized courts may … Read More