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224.22 sec. 1 - Mental Health and the Law (Spring 2014)

Instructor: George Woods  
Instructor: Jennifer Johnson  (view instructor's teaching evaluations)
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Units: 2
Meeting Time: M 8:00-9:50
Meeting Location: 107

Course Start: January 06, 2014
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 49598


This two-unit seminar will explore the intersection of mental health and the law and provide students with tools to improve advocacy when mental health is an issue in a case.

In the last three decades, the legal system has seen an evolution in the understanding between life circumstances, mental health and involvement with the law. Advances in brain science and social history investigation as well as an increasingly nuanced view of mental disorders have prompted these strides in various aspects of the law.

This recognition of the role of cognition in legal cases extends beyond the confines of criminal law. People with mental disorders interact with the civil legal system in employment cases, civil rights actions, family law disputes, elder law cases and the corporate arena. Lawyers in most practice areas will at some point encounter a client, a witness, a family member, or a lawyer with one or more mental disorders. They must recognize the issue, and understand its implications with respect to their legal representation of the client.

Lawyers graduating today are faced with a system that is dramatically changing where mental health meets the law. Knowledge that was once considered a specialty area for lawyers is now best practice. New attorneys should be prepared for this new world.

Dr. George Woods is a neuropsychiatrist with a private practice in San Francisco. In addition to his clinical practice in disorders of the brain, he consults and testifies as a forensic mental health expert in both civil and criminal matters throughout the United States. Dr. Woods is Vice President/President Elect of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health. He is also an Associate Adjunct Professor at Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and has published articles in peer reviewed medical and legal publications.

Jennifer Johnson is a Deputy Public Defender in San Francisco and represents clients in Behavioral Health Court. She was a founding member of the mental health court and is actively involved in shaping public policy and public perception at the crossroads of mental health and the law. In partnership with Dr. Woods, Ms. Johnson has started a monthly continuing legal education series through West LegalEdcenter entitled Where Mental Health Meets the Law.

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Exam Notes: P+
Course Category: Social Justice and Public Interest

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