Author Archives: Mark Larsen

About Mark Larsen

Director, Mental Health Litigation

April 2021 MHLD News

Kudos to Miriam, Beau & everyone who contributed to the MHLD Newsletter April 2021

  • Interesting, informative and helpful.

  • Here are the headlines:

  • Upcoming Webinars – check them out on the Training Page
  • Why Race Matters Speaker Series: We encourage you to register for the April 26th session on the Harvard Study on Racism in the Criminal Justice System. There will be MHLD-specific breakout sessions on how to raise and litigate racial bias in mental health cases.
  • April is National “Minority” Health Month – Resources to keep you informed
  • CDC Declares Racism a Serious Public Health Threat
  • Resources for Culturally Responsive Behavioral Health
  • Research Shows Neurological and Psychiatric Outcomes from COVID article from Lancet
  • Recent SJC Arguments by the Appellate Unit
  • April 5 In the Matter of K.I. “Impounded Case” SJC-13081
  • April 9 In the Matter of P.R. “Impounded Case” SJC-13068
  • To watch the arguments, go to the Suffolk/SJC archive page:
  • New Attorneys Joining the Guardianship Panel after completing certification training. Thanks to all who helped

SJC rules that Discharge in mental health commitments means: Discharge

In a major decision (Pembroke Hospital v. D.L. (May 23, 2019)) the SJC ruled that when a petition for commitment under Chapter 123 is denied, the respondent cannot be held for further evaluation at the petitioning facility or another facility barring new evidence “that failure to hospitalize such person would create a likelihood of serious harm by reason of mental illness.” M.G.L. chapter 123, sec. 12(a). An “involuntary readmission pursuant to § 12 must be based on new information that was unavailable to the judge during the previous petition hearing. Here, as the judge denied the first petition — finding D.L. not to be a danger to himself or others — Pembroke needed new information pertaining to D.L.’s dangerousness in order to readmit him properly pursuant to § 12.” Pembroke v. D.L. at footnote 13.

In this case, Pembroke failed to discharge D.L. within the meaning of G. L. c. 123 after the denial of its petition to continue D.L.’s confinement; this was a violation of the statute. See G. L. c. 123, § 6 (a). In addition, Pembroke’s § 12 (a) application to South Shore for evaluation and subsequent readmission and involuntary confinement of D.L. was an “abuse or misuse” of § 12. See G. L. c. 123, § 12 (b); Magrini, 451 Mass. at 784, 889 N.E.2d 929. Finally, because D.L. was not held lawfully under § 12 (b), the District Court did not have jurisdiction to rule on the petition for civil commitment pursuant to G. L. c. 123, §§ 7 and 8. For these reasons, the decision and order of the Appellate Division denying D.L.’s motion to dismiss is reversed. The order of civil commitment pursuant to §§ 7 and 8 is vacated.

Congratulations to Devorah Borenstein who argued and briefed the case, Director of Mental Health Appeals, Karen Talley  for her support and Bar Advocates, Mike O’Brien & Joan Legraw, who were trial counsel in the successive petitions.

Childhood Trauma And Its Lifelong Health Effects More Prevalent Among Minorities – NPR

NPR Reported on Monday about a new study that show the impact of childhood trauma on Lifelong health

When researchers first discovered a link in the late 1990s between childhood adversity and chronic health problems later in life, the real revelation was how common those experiences were across all socioeconomic groups.

But the first major study to focus on adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) was limited to a single healthcare system in San Diego. A study published Monday in JAMA Pediatricsthe largest nationally representative study to date on ACEs — confirms that these experiences are universal, yet highlights some disparities among socioeconomic groups. People with low-income and educational attainment, people of color and people who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual had significantly higher chance of having experienced adversity in childhood.

Full Story

Staff Counsel Posting for MHLD in Boston

March 24 – 7:00 PM, Boston: Harvard Center for Law, Brain & Behavior hosts: Poverty, Violence, and the Developing Mind

Concentrated poverty is on the rise, and an increasing number of children are at risk for exposure to severe violence and dangerous living conditions. What are the implications of trauma exposure for healthy brain development?

During this panel event, Dr. Kerry Ressler (of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School) will discuss the risks poor, urban environments pose for post-traumatic stress disorder, while Dr. Charles A. Nelson (of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital) will discuss the effects of “toxic stress” on early childhood development. Carey Goldberg of WBUR’s CommonHealth will facilitate the conversation and host the Q&A session with the audience. 

This event is free and open to the public. It will be held on Thursday, March 24, 2016, at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Bornstein Amphitheater, from 7:00-8:30 pm. A brief reception will precede the event from 6:30-7:00 PM.  Click here to register.

Thursday, March 24, 2016 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM (EDT)
Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Bornstein Amphitheater – 75 Francis Street 2nd Floor, Boston, MA 02115 – 

MHLD Yahoo Group Important Notice

Mental Health Litigation Division Panel Members – Yahoo Group Membership:

Membership in the Mental Health Litigation Division Discussion Yahoo Group is a requirement for all attorneys on the MHLD Panel.

If you are not a member of the Yahoo group, you should join now. You will need a Yahoo account.

Some of you should have received an invitation to join this group if you are not currently a member. Please respond and complete the registration process as soon as possible.

Make sure you include an identifiable display name when you join or edit your membership.


MHLD Requests for Appoint of Appellate Counsel

Requests for appointment of appellate counsel in civil commitment, guardianship and substituted judgment cases should be sent to and must include the following:

1. Notice of Appeal
2. Appeal Intake Form  
3. Supporting documentation such as the order, motions and objections

Questions should be addressed to


DMH Schedules Hearings on Fresh Air Regulations Sept. 15 at 2:00 pm

The Department of Mental Health has filed regulations for public comment  implementing the “Reasonable Daily Access to Fresh Air” Act of 2014. This act added access to fresh air to the list of rights of individuals hospitalized in psychiatric facilities operated, contracted or licensed by DMH.  
The hearing on the proposed regulations will take place on September 15, 2015 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the DMH Central Office, 25 Staniford St., Boston, MA  02114. Click here for directions.

Click here to download the Notice of Public Hearing.
Click here to download a copy of the proposed regulations.     Continue reading

Mental Health Litigation Schedules First Sessions for Mandatory Training for Guardianship Attorneys

MHLD panel members are required to complete a day-long training on representing respondents in guardianship cases during the FY 16, which runs from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016. This will also satisfy the requirement that panelists complete 8 hours of CLE.The MHLD will offer regional trainings at locations statewide.

The first two trainings, which will take place in Springfield and Worcester.

Mark your calendars:

Friday, November 13, 2015 at Springfield Technical Community College in Springfield.
Friday, December 4, 2015 at the Worcester Registry of Deeds in Worcester.

Thanks to everyone who has completed the re-registration process. For those who have not, please keep in mind that the deadline is August 15, 2015. The forms are available in pdf. Email the forms to and you will receive an auto-reply confirming that it has been received.