Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative: 4th Annual Leadership Summit and Awards

June 21, 2024

The Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative (JPLI) held its fourth Annual Leadership Summit on May 3, 2024, in New York City. The event, which is hosted by the CSG Justice Center, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, and the National Center for State Courts, celebrates judicial and psychiatric leaders who have dedicated their careers to improving outcomes for people with behavioral health needs in the justice system.  

“This event gives us an opportunity to shine a light on judges and psychiatrists who are going above and beyond day after day, year after year, to improve individual health and public safety in their communities,” said Hallie Fader-Towe, director of justice and health initiatives at the CSG Justice Center. “Over the years, we have been able to recognize very different ways leadership happens, always, though, with steadfast attention to the human beings they serve.” 

In conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month and as part of the annual JPLI event, the Judge Stephen S. Goss Memorial Awards for Leadership are presented to judges and psychiatrists who exemplify JPLI’s mission. These awards were established in 2021 to honor the late Judge Goss, a pioneering advocate for people with behavioral health needs who served on the Superior Court of the Dougherty County, Georgia Judicial Circuit for 19 years. He also presided over the first felony mental health court in Georgia and participated in developing a national guide for mental health court programs. Because of training spearheaded by Judge Goss, judges new to mental health courts are now taught to ask participants, “What can I do to help you?” said JPLI co-chair, Judge Steven Leifman of the Miami-Dade County Court.  

The 2024 Judge Goss Leadership Awards celebrated:

  • Judge Wes Curry, presiding judge of the Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Municipal Court and its Behavioral Health Court, whose success led to the development of other treatment courts in the state for drugs and domestic violence; and  
  • Dr. Jennifer Piel, a forensic psychiatrist and director of the University of Washington Center for Mental Health, Policy, and the Law, whose work includes educating criminal defense attorneys on reducing suicide risks among their clients and supporting women working in high-security correctional settings.  

Recipients of the Judge Stephen S. Goss Lifetime Achievement Awards were Judge Marcia P. Hirsch, presiding judge of the Queens, New York, Drug Treatment Court, the DWI Treatment Court, the Mental Health Court, the Veterans Court, and the Drug Diversion Court; and Dr. Terry A. Kupers, a psychiatrist and professor emeritus at The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California, whose expertise centers on mental health and incarceration, particularly the detrimental effects of solitary confinement.  

“When Judge Goss and I presented together, I learned as much from him as the people in the session did,” said Judge Hirsch during her acceptance speech. “As I retire, I’m going to take with me the wonderful memories of my mental health court participants—their recovery, their resilience, their reconnections with their families, and their hope for the future.” 

For the first time, JPLI also bestowed a team collaboration award. The award honored three leaders of the Center for Law, Brain, & Behavior (CLBB) at Massachusetts General Hospital: Dr. Judith G. Edersheim, Judge Nancy Gertner, and Dr. Robert Kinscherff. The CLBB—whose mission focuses on putting actionable neuroscience in the hands of judges, lawyers, policymakers, and journalists—has focused its work on an institutional change model and its expansion from federal to state courts. “This award means the world to us,” said Dr. Edersheim.   

Strengthening Services

A policy discussion immediately followed the awards ceremony, highlighting the efforts of the New York State Judicial Task Force on Mental Illness to address systems change and strengthen behavioral health and homelessness services. Panelists addressed misconceptions about mental illness and violence and how judges and psychiatrists can work together to improve outcomes for underserved individuals.  

The panelists included:  

  • Dr. Michael Champion, senior advisor for Mental Health and the Justice System in the Office of Governor Josh Green in Hawai’i; chair of the Forensic Division of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors; and JPLI co-chair;  
  • Judge Matthew D’Emic, administrative judge for Criminal Matters in the Kings County Supreme Court, presiding judge for the Brooklyn Domestic Violence Court and Brooklyn Mental Health Court, and 2023 Judge Stephen S. Goss Lifetime Achievement recipient; 
  • Judge Marcia Hirsch; and  
  • Helen “Skip” Skipper, executive director of the New York City Justice Peer Initiative. 

“We hope that this annual event continues to recognize the work of incredible individuals who are dedicating their careers to such an important mission and that inspires others in communities across the country,” said Fader-Towe. 

The JPLI is a national initiative that aims to support and enhance efforts by judges and psychiatrists to improve responses to people with behavioral health needs who are involved in the justice system. To learn more about JPLI and sign up for its bi-monthly newsletter, visit https://csgjusticecenter.org/projects/judges-and-psychiatrists-leadership-initiative/ 

View a recording of the acceptance speeches during the Leadership Summit. 

Acceptance Speeches

Photo credit: Chris Horn, CSG Justice Center

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Senior Content Project Specialist, Communications and External Affairs
With a background in legal and business writing, Anne Ellis helps ensure that the CSG Justice Center’s editorial content effectively communicates the organization’s work and clearly conveys complex policy issues. Her previous experience covers both nonprofit and corporate sectors. She
has volunteered for over 12 years as the associate editor for the Chicago Bar Association’s member magazine. On the corporate side, she managed competitive intelligence research projects at a consulting firm and led writing training workshops. Anne has a BA from Trinity Washington University and a JD from the George Washington University School of Law. She holds an Illinois law license and is a member of Scribes (the American Society of Legal Writers). 
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