Module 3: The Mental Health Court Team

Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts.

Module 3: The Mental Health Court Team describes who does what on the mental health court team, and provides suggestions for ensuring effective collaboration.

Learning Objectives

  1. Describe the roles and responsibilities of the core mental health court team members
  2. Identify ethical issues that mental health courts present for yourself and other team members
  3. Develop approaches for handling conflict within your mental health court team

Prep Work

Provides background reading to introduce you to the topics discussed in this module. All resources are available for free online. You will need access to a computer to complete this step. Estimated completion time: 30 minutes

Directions

  1. Read the short article on problem-solving court ethics that pertains to your profession.
  2. Read one other article that pertains to another profession.

Articles

Judge

Prosecutor

Defense Attorney

Supervision Officer

  • Item 1: Excerpt 1 and Excerpt 2, in Council of State Governments Justice Center and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. 2009. Improving Outcomes for People With Mental Illnesses Under Community Supervision: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice, by Seth J. Prins and Laura Draper. New York.

Mental Health Practitioner

Program Coordinator

Presentation


Module 3: The Mental Health Court Team
Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts.

Quiz

Reinforces your knowledge of the concepts you learned in the module. You will need access to a computer to complete this step. Estimated completion time: 10 minutes

Questions

3.1. True or False: Prosecutors and defense attorneys generally participate in an adversarial process.

  

3.2. True or False: Practicing therapeutic justice means that mental health court judges can and should disregard the judicial code of ethics whenever it conflicts with a program participant\’s mental health.

  

3.3. True or False: It is possible that a community corrections officer in mental health court may develop different standards for probation revocations based on work with mental health court participants.

  

3.4. Which of the following are legitimate reasons that may prevent a behavioral health care provider from sharing everything s/he knows with the mental health court team? Check all that apply.

    

3.5. Which of the following are signs of a “healthy” interdisciplinary mental health court team? Check all that apply.

     

Answers

3.1  Correct answer: True. The U.S. legal system is described in Black’s Law Dictionary as an “adversary system” “involving active and unhindered parties contesting with each other to put forth a case before an independent decision-maker.”

3.2  Correct answer: False. Problem-solving courts can raise some potential areas of conflict with the judicial code of ethics. However, to date, few states have explicitly ruled on these issues, and judges should be sure to consult their own states’ codes and advisory committees on judicial ethics. Designing program policies and procedures to avoid potential conflicts will be discussed in detail in Module 5: Designing Policies for Program Participation.

3.3  Correct answer: True. Officers supervising mental health caseloads, whether in mental health court or not, should be mindful that the needs and capacities of individuals under their supervision are likely to differ. At the same time, mental health court community corrections officers may well have smaller caseloads, increasing the likelihood that they will observe non-compliant behaviors.Community corrections officers should consult state law and departmental policy about revocations for technical violations as well as incorporate evidence-based practices on the imposition of sanctions and incentives. For more details, see Module 7: Facilitating Participant Success in a Mental Health Court.

3.4  Correct answer: a, b, and c. Behavioral health care providers often have good reasons for restricting how personal health information is shared based on privacy law and the trust that is necessary in a therapeutic relationship. They should work together with other members of the mental health court team to determine what information is necessary for program operations. For more details, see Module 5: Designing Policies for Program Participation

3.5  Correct answer: b, c, and d. “Role-switching” (a) not only fails to make use of the expertise of each team member, but also can lead to violations of professional ethics. In (e), the team is out of balance, and one perspective, here the legitimate corrections experience, has been eliminated so that the program is no longer serving its role of protecting public safety.

Activities Guide

Gives you an opportunity to apply the knowledge you acquired from this module’s Prep Work and Presentation and develop resources and processes tailored to your program. You will view videos of an actual court team, discuss issues with your teammates, complete worksheets, and more. Some of the Activities will be completed on your own and others as a group. You may want to print the Activities Guide, although you will also need access to a computer (with Adobe Flash Player installed) to view the accompanying videos. Estimated completion time: 2-3 hours

These Activities are designed to prompt discussion among your team about how you will interact as a single unit. Each Activity contains questions and worksheets to complete. One of the Activities in this module requires that you watch short video segments of a mental health court team in action. The Activities include components you will complete on your own and others to be completed as a group. At the end of the Activities, you will be asked to list three main issues that the Activities have raised for your own program planning.

Download the Activities Guide.

Videos

These videos feature members of the Bonneville County (ID) Mental Health Court team, a real mental health court team and a Bureau of Justice Assistance Mental Health Court Learning Site, engaging in simulated team meetings discussing hypothetical program participants. The Bonneville team is not shown as a “model;” for example, some may note the absence of a defense attorney at team meetings. Rather, the Bonneville team represents real people facing real challenges in a mental health court setting.

Meet the mental health court case study team members.

You will be prompted to view these videos in the Activities Guide. You may also link directly to each video from the Activities Guide.

Module 3: New Applications
Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts.
Module 3: Val Harris
Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts.

Additional Resources

Policy and Practice Guides

American Bar Association. “ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct.” American Bar Association. 2010. See esp. Canon 2, Rule 2.9, “Ex-Parte Communications.” Canon 2, Rule 2.9 of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct outlines the ethical obligations of judges in problem-solving courts.
Available here

Carmichael, Dottie, et al. Representing the Mentally Ill Offender: An Evaluation of Advocacy Alternatives. Austin, TX: Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense, Office of Court Administration, 2010. In 2008, The Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense began a two-year evaluation of mental health public defenders and mental health courts in Texas. This publication gives an overview of the evaluation, including research findings and policy recommendations.
Available here

Clark, Melanca, and Emily Savner. Community Oriented Defense: Stronger Public Defenders. New York, NY: Brennan Center for Justice, 2010. This publication lists ten principles of community-oriented defense for public defenders.
Available here

Council of State Governments Justice Center. A Guide to Mental Health Court Design and Implementation. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2008. See esp. Step III, Section Eight, “The Mental Health Court Team.” Section eight (starting on page 63) of this guide lists the ideal members of a mental health court team.
Available here

Fahey, Jennifer, and Crime and Justice Institute. Using Research to Promote Public Safety: A Prosecutor’s Primer on Evidence-Based Practice. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, 2008. Developed as part of a set of publications focused on reducing offender recidivism (the “Box Set”), this paper examines the use of evidence-based principles and practices in a prosecutorial context.
Available here

Freeman-Wilson, Karen, Ronald Sullivan, and Susan P. Weinstein. Critical Issues for Defense Attorneys in Drug Court. Alexandria, VA: National Drug Court Institute, 2003. This publication provides an overview of the role of defense attorneys in drug courts. It also offers useful information for communities planning or implementing drug courts or other problem-solving courts.
Available here

Glassberg, Hope, and Elizabeth Dodd. A Guide to the Role of Crime Victims in Mental Health Courts. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2008. This guide was designed to help mental health court practitioners and advocates understand the importance of victim participation in mental health courts.
Available here

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. America’s Problem-Solving Courts: The Criminal Cost of Treatment and the Case for Reform. Washington, DC: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2009. This report provides an overview of drug courts, including their history and an evaluation of their effectiveness, and makes recommendations for best practices.
Available here

Weibrecht, Kimberly, and Crime and Justice Institute. Evidence-Based Practices and Criminal Defense: Opportunities, Challenges, and Practical Considerations. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, 2008. Developed as part of a set of publications focused on reducing offender recidivism (the “Box Set”), this paper provides guidance to criminal defense attorneys and examines the role of evidence-based practices in criminal defense.
Available here

Website Resources

The National Judicial College. “Leading the Way in Educating Judges on Problem-Solving Courts.” 2010. This article describes efforts by the National Judicial College to educate judges on the impact of substance use disorders and mental illnesses in criminal courts.
Available here