Supreme Court Majority Effectively Eliminates 700 Years Of Legal Thinking About Insanity Defense

(4-2-20) With all of our attention on the pandemic, a U.S. Supreme Court decision about the insanity defense last week didn’t attract much attention. As long-time mental health advocate and attorney Ron Honberg reports it should have!

Kahler V. Kansas Ruling Says States Can Separately Define Insanity In Criminal Cases.

By Ron Honberg, J.D.

A divided U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling last week that essentially said states can eliminate the option of insanity as a defense regardless of how sick someone might be.

There is an old adage that “hard cases make bad laws.”   What this essentially means is that cases with unusual facts sometimes lead to decisions that create bad legal precedents for a large number of people.

Kahler v. Kansas may prove that point.

No one disputes that James Kraig Kahler committed a horrific crime. He shot to death his estranged wife, their two daughters, and his wife’s mother, sparing only their nine-year-old son who witnessed the shootings .

Kahler did not have a previously documented history of mental illness.

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Mother Flees U.S. In Search For Affordable Mental Health Care: Outrageous In Richest Nation

(3-30-20) Dianne Hiltman is flying to Costa Rica with her adult son who needs mental health treatment. The reason why she has to leave the United States will not surprise you, but it should anger you.

On Our Way Desperately Seeking Help: A Mother’s Journal

By Dianne Hiltman

Mar 28, 2020

The plane descends in the dark evening, far away lights scatter the horizon and reveal the distant city. It could be any city, a metal tube filled with travelers, folks simply getting home, some people fulfilling business obligations, others just doing life.

But this airplane is landing in San Jose, Costa Rica and I am accompanying my 33 year-old son with mental illness there.

I manage a rueful smile. I’m certain I’d win betting that we are the only people on this flight because of mental illness. Then I remember all the times we have hoped in the past. The numerous medications. The yet one more fine and highly recommended psychiatrist. The clinical trial of IVKetamine therapy. So many hopes. Twenty two years of failed hopes.

I can’t quite “read” Matt this night.

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SHAKEDOWN: My New Novel Is Based On Actual Soviet Threat To Flood Our Country


During the Cold War, the Soviet Union plotted to destroy our major East coast cities by launching a “mega tsunami” – a plan thankfully abandoned.

This actual Soviet threat forms the backbone of our plot in Shakedown, my new novel written with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, that was released this week.

Shakedown is not politically partisan, as Kirkus Review stated in its review:

“This is, at its best, an action thriller, with a full share of bang-up scenes… An entertaining, if coldhearted, international thriller.” 

Publisher’s Weekly added: “Plenty of action and solid prose, along with plenty of intriguing little-known historical and technical facts.” 

I first learned about the “mega tsunami” plot from Sergei Tretyakov, the highest ranking defector under President Putin, whose life story is told in my non-fiction book, COMRADE J:  The Untold Secrets of Russia’s Master Spy in America After The Cold War.

Tretyakov’s revelations were confirmed in detail last year by  Russian journalist, Yekaterina Sinelschikova, in a news article entitled: “The Soviet Union Planned to Wipe Out The United States With a Huge Tsunami.”  Writing in Russia Beyond, she noted:

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Homeless Americans, Including Those With Serious Mental Illnesses, Being Left Out Of Govt. Recovery Plans

Photo courtesy of Business Insider

(3-27-20) Local, state and federal officials need to begin thinking outside the box if they intend to help homeless Americans, especially those with serious mental illnesses.

The trillion dollar recovery package proposed by Congress includes direct payments to those who qualify.  (Click here to learn how much you will receive.)

But many homeless Americans don’t have permanent addresses, direct deposit or bank accounts, especially homeless young people and those with serious mental illnesses.

I serve on the Corporation for Supportive Housing board of directors with Matthew Morton,  a Research Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, and an expert on youth homelessness. He’s written about options officials can take to get cash into the hands of homeless Americans. Some four million young people are without housing.

“You face extraordinary difficulties,” he writes about the young, “that most young people don’t and may not ever have to. Chances are, you first fell into homelessness through a path of trauma and family adversity. Now you have to manage the stress of not knowing where you will sleep or where your next meal will come from. You face the very real risk of being abused, exploited or trafficked. You endure repeatedly dehumanizing experiences that undermine your sense of self-worth. These hardships disrupt your ability to thrive during one of life’s most critical developmental windows. Now, add COVID-19.”

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Intervening Before Dangerousness: Canadian Psychiatrist Describes Ontario Law Judging Ability To Consent

Photo courtesy Wikipedia


What should a psychiatrist do when a patient, who has had symptoms of a serious mental illness but is currently stable, refuses further treatment?

Dr. David Kantor, a Canadian psychiatrist, sent me an email addressing this question. He explained there is a process in Ontario that permits doctors to override the patient’s choice before that patient regresses.

Please share your thoughts on my Facebook page about his email.

Evaluating An Individual’s Ability To Give Consent

By Dr. David Kantor, MD FRCP

Successful treatment of people with severe mental illness (SMI) such as schizophrenia, is inarguably a problem everywhere in the world. The primary reason for this is the fact that many of these patients (estimate by various literature accounts as between 40%-90%) lack insight into their illness. That is, they do not appreciate the fact that they suffer from the illness and/or that adequate treatment is necessary.

Different geographic jurisdictions worldwide have different mental health laws. A major aspect of how these laws differ is the degree to which the particular jurisdiction allows for involuntary treatment in this patient populations.

I am a psychiatric specialist in the province of Ontario, Canda. In Ontario, all medical treatment is dictated by the patient’s willingness or unwillingness to undergo the advised treatment – i.e consent to treatment.

However, Ontario laws demand that a patient’s capability to consent to treatment be assessed when there is reason to believe the patient may not be capable.

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Psychiatrist At Fairfax County, Va., Intake Center Resigns Amid Fears Of Coronavirus Spread


(3-21-20) The chairman of the Fairfax Board of Supervisors announced today that the county where I live suffered its first death because of the coronavirus. The individual’s name was not given.

The Washington Post reported late today that a psychiatrist at the county mental health intake center had resigned after claiming he and other mental health workers there were not being adequately protected.

I had asked our local mental health officials and Sheriff Stacey A. Kincaid this weekend about safety steps being taken at the Merrifield Center For Community Mental Health and Fairfax County Adult Detention Center. I posted the sheriff’s safeguards this morning, but hadn’t heard from mental health officials.

I’m reprinting an edited version of the Post account about Psychiatrist Jason Williams sudden resignation.  Obviously this news is upsetting to me personally because two of my adult children work locally with persons with mental illnesses, one as a peer support specialist and the other as a mental health clinician for an area  housing nonprofit.

In the midst of this uncertainty, I received a promising email  from long-time local mental health advocate Joanna Walker with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Northern Virginia chapter that includes Fairfax County.

“I’m pleased to report that NAMI Northern Virginia will be using HIPAA Compliant Zoom Conferencing for our support groups. This morning I co-facilitated the first online  meeting of our Arlington Connection Recovery Support Group. This group was advertised to former group members only because it was a test of the software, however future family and peer support groups will be available to the public, with links on I really like the ability to see participants on video, and our meeting was very successful.”

What are your communities doing to insure safe procedures at mental health intake centers? Are your communities using video conferencing for support groups? Please share helpful mental health articles and information on my Facebook page.

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