Karen Owen Talley being presented with the Liacos Award by Mark Larsen

KAREN OWEN TALLEY, Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award. The Paul J. Liacos Mental Health Advocacy Award recognizes a public defender or private attorney whose legal advocacy on behalf of persons involved in civil and/or criminal mental health proceedings best exemplifies zealous advocacy in furtherance of all clients’ legal interests.

Since her graduation from New York Law School in 1995, Karen Talley has dedicated her career to representing people with mental and or physical disabilities and has zealously advocated for their right to self-determination and autonomy.  In furtherance of her commitment and dedication to our clients, Karen has worked at the Center for Public Representation, the Disability Law Center, and the Mental Health Litigation Division.  Karen has taught mental health law at Suffolk University School of Law and New York Law School.  She has shared her knowledge and experience with groups addressing disabilities, mental health, guardianships, and supported decision making.

Karen has presented many times on commitment, guardianship and other disability rights issues.  She also has authored numerous articles, chapters, and training materials.  Karen has trained many attorneys on mental health law in the Commonwealth and elsewhere.

Karen has a distinguished record as an appellate attorney. She has argued at various levels of the appellate courts. Her most distinguished and important cases are Commonwealth v. Foss, 437 Mass. 584 (2002) that helped elucidate the parameters of dismissal of a criminal case after a finding of incompetence. In 2017 the decision in the Matter of N.L., 476 Mass. 632, Karen successfully led the SJC to concluding that “grant of a first request for a continuance [in a civil commitment] is mandatory where a denial thereof is reasonably likely to prejudice a person’s ability  to prepare a meaningful defense.” Karen has also been instrumental in the drafting of both amicus briefs and legislative position papers.

Karen is well respected in both our legal and client communities. Judge Liacos would be proud that she is receiving this honor.