School of Law to host “Mental Health and the Law” conference March 19

Ellis, the *National Law Journal*'s 2002 Lawyer of the Year, to deliver keynote address

James W. Ellis, the National Law Journal’s 2002 Lawyer of the Year, will deliver the keynote address during the School of Law’s fourth annual Access to Equal Justice conference, “Mental Health and the Law,” March 19 in the Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom of Anheuser-Busch Hall.

Ellis, professor of law at the University of New Mexico, successfully argued Atkins v. Virginia, in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that executing individuals with mental retardation violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

The goal of the conference is to build connections between the University and the community by bringing together University faculty and students, legal services providers, health care providers, community leaders and government officials in a coordinated effort to improve the delivery of legal services and justice in our region.

Major themes to be discussed during the conference include the death penalty and questions of competency; competency and ethical considerations; mental disability and international human rights law; mental health assessments and interventions in the juvenile justice system; homelessness, homeless courts, and mental health courts; therapeutic jurisprudence and cross cultural competency; sexually violent offenders – law, science, and policy; and ethical challenges in interdisciplinary teaching and practice.

The conference also is part of a two-year project undertaken by the law school’s Clinical Education Program, the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and the Journal of Law & Policy on “Justice, Ethics, and Interdisciplinary Teaching and Practice.”

“This interdisciplinary project was designed to explore the practical, pedagogical, ethical, and social justice challenges and rewards of interdisciplinary teaching and practice,” said Karen Tokarz, professor of law and executive director of clinical and alternative dispute resolution programs at the law school, and conference organizer.

“In particular, we are examining the ‘disconnects’ between the legal profession and other professions in addressing the needs of individuals with mental disabilities.”

Co-sponsored by the George Warren Brown School of Social Work, the School of Medicine, and the department of psychology in Arts & Sciences, the conference is designed for both academics and practitioners in the areas of law, social work, psychology, psychiatry, education, environmental studies and other mental health fields.

The conference is free and open to the public; however, attendees must pre-register. Total conference enrollment is limited to 175 people.

For registration information contact Michael Cherba, clinical program coordinator at the School of Law, at 935-6419. A full conference agenda is available at

This conference qualifies for 8.0 hours of MCLE credit, including 1.0 hours of Ethics credit.