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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 134592 Find in a Library
Title: Fatal Assumption: A Critical Evaluation of the Role of Counsel in Mental Disability Cases
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:16  Issue:2  Dated:(February 1992)  Pages:39-59
Author(s): M L Perlin
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 21
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The assumption that mentally disabled individuals are afforded competent counsel on a regular basis is challenged.
Abstract: Participants in the mental disability/justice system who seek to effectuate any meaningful change on behalf of mentally disabled persons must focus on the critical role of counsel for several overlapping and interrelated reasons. First, legal rights are not necessarily self-executing. Secondly, the myth of the availability of adequate counsel is essentially illusory. Further, the presence of structured counsel, namely, lawyers supported by mental health professionals, serves an important internal educative function by sensitizing all participants in the mental disability trial process, including judges, to the social, cultural, and political issues that are involved. Other reasons for the involvement of competent counsel include: underidentification of mental disability cases; the increased complexity of mental disability law; and a change in the social climate to an environment that is more hostile toward mental patients and less protective of their rights. 121 references
Main Term(s): Persons with cognitive disabilities; Right to counsel
Index Term(s): Civil commitment; Law reform; Political influences; Social change
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