Introduction to Law and Psychiatry at Civil, Criminal and Policy Crossroads
Instructor: Professor Debra A. Pinals, M.D.
Course Summary: In this course, students will become oriented to common crossroads where law and psychiatry intersect. The course will begin with an overview of mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. A review of case law pertaining to civil commitment, the right to treatment, and the right to refuse treatment will help students gain an understanding of the legal regulation of psychiatric practice. Risk assessment, confidentiality and the duty to protect third parties and related tort claims will be covered. Students will explore mental health assessments and expert witness testimony pertaining to criminal law and psychiatry in areas such as competence to stand trial, criminal responsibility, competence to proceed pro se, sex offenders, and the death penalty. Finally, the course will review systems issues pertaining to persons with mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities in psychiatric hospitals, jails and prisons, and treatment courts and will explore how federal legislation, government agencies, and litigation can shape services in public systems. The course will consist of discussion of assigned readings, short lectures, and the use of video material as a basis for discussion. There will be at least one field trip as part of the course. Short written or activity-related assignments, classroom participation and a final brief paper will be the basis for final grades.
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