Do you want to protect the civil rights of people with psychiatric challenges and hone or develop valuable trial skills? The CPCS Mental Health Litigation Division is now accepting applications for our Fall 2020 Civil Commitment Certification Training!

In Massachusetts, people experiencing psychiatric distress can be involuntarily detained at psychiatric facilities, committed for up to six months or a year, and treated with anti-psychotic medications against their wishes. This substantial deprivation of liberty entitles people to court-appointed counsel to ensure that all their rights under the law are protected. Civil commitment cases offer frequent litigation experience, client contact, and the satisfaction of providing zealous client-centered advocacy to some of the most vulnerable clients in the Commonwealth.

During the COVID-19 pandemic civil commitment petitions and petitions to treat are still being filed and trials are still being held, although telephonically or by videoconference for now as courts slowly re-open for in-person hearings.

Because we cannot meet in person during the pandemic, we have developed an online certification course. This course features new and improved content including asynchronous readings, videos, and short assignments which you do on your own at your own pace, combined with live Zoom sessions including Q & A, discussions, and small group skills exercises. The course concludes with a mock trial on Zoom where you will be able to practice what you learned in the first part of the course and get constructive feedback from experienced mental health attorneys before taking your first commitment case.

Program Details and Time Commitment

This first part of the certification course will begin with a live opening plenary session on Friday October 16, 2020 and conclude on November 6, 2020. The second part of the course is half-day mock trials, to be scheduled during the week of November 16-20.

The breakdown of the expected time commitment is as follows:

  • Viewing online lectures, readings, short videos, and other materials, and completing short assignments: approximately eight hours/week for the full weeks
  • Participation in seven live Zoom lectures/small group discussions/skills breakout sessions for 90 minutes each on Fridays (morning/mid-day) and Tuesdays (afternoon) (10/16; 10/20; 10/23; 10/27; 10/30; 11/3; and 11/6) (exact times TBD)
  • One session of half-day mock trials, to be scheduled as outlined above

You must complete the entire course and attend all live Zoom sessions to be certified to the Mental Health Litigation Division panel.

The deadline for applications is September 14, 2020. The cost of the training is $150 upon registration if you are accepted. In addition to the online course you will receive a copy of the newly revised 7th edition of the MCLE Mental Health Proceedings in Massachusetts: A Manual for Defense Counsel (2020). We will notify everyone of acceptance status after September 14th; please allow up to ten (10) days after the application deadline before inquiring about status.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO APPLY (no fee to apply)

Note: to submit your application, you must press Submit at the bottom left hand side, below the signature. If you are not able to complete the application in one sitting you may press the Save button, on the bottom right hand side, and you will receive a link to use when you are ready to complete the application.

For more information about the Mental Health Litigation Division Civil Commitment Online Certification Training or for questions about the application, please contact Beau Kealy at [email protected] or 617-910-5714

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