Jurist in Residence Letter

From Senior District Judge John J. Specia, Jr. (Ret.)

This resource letter of the Jurist in Residence (JIR) program is designed to facilitate communication among the JCMH, the judiciary, and mental health stakeholders. Please forward this letter to any judges, attorneys, mental health professionals, law enforcement, or other community and state leaders who might be interested. To ensure that you regularly receive this letter, please click on the subscribe button at the bottom of this page, if you have not already. 

JCMH Podcast! 

In case you missed it, JCMH launched a podcast called Reimagining Justice: Exploring Texas Innovations in Mental Health in March. This podcast brings you an inside look at the people working to improve the lives of those at the intersection of mental health and the justice system in Texas. Join us as we sit down with mental health stakeholders and delve into their personal stories, experiences, and insights in the field. We highlight their work and initiatives aimed at advancing mental health support and addressing challenges in the justice system. Get to know the leaders driving change and creating a more just and compassionate system for all. Available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google, and Stitcher


Emergency Detention Round Table Report  

On December 14, 2022, the JCMH held a round table event on complex issues in emergency detention proceedings. As Commission staff began offering Technical Assistance in 2022, they heard reports about local challenges with laws and processes on emergency detention orders. Invited guests included judges from all levels of the judiciary, attorneys, medical professionals, law enforcement, hospital and medical association representatives, and leaders from state agencies such as the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC).  


Participants discussed the intent of emergency detention laws, complex issues and unique circumstances in emergency detention proceedings, and potential solutions. Thank you to the many stakeholders who made time to attend this important event. The report can be found here.  


2023 Summit Request for Proposals Now Open 

The JCMH is accepting proposals to present at the 6th Annual Judicial Summit on Mental Health, which will be held October 18-20, 2023, in Galveston. This year we hope to highlight lived experience experts, cross-disciplinary collaborations, and successful, replicable programs related to best practices in Assisted Outpatient Treatment, emergency detention, civil commitment, law enforcement diversion, early identification, mental health courts, competency restoration, and re-entry. The selected presentations will include one or more of the following issues: rural innovations, family- or person-centered practices, trauma-informed care, resilience, and equity. JCMH strongly encourages proposals for sessions that present research findings, feature data analysis, and discuss evidence-based practices. Preference will be given to presentations that provide an engaging and interactive experience for the audience. More information and the application are available here.  


April 12th Commission Meeting  

The April 12th Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health Meeting will take place from 10:00 am until 2:00 p.m. A link to a livestream of the meeting on our YouTube channel will be available on our website. In honor of the Commission’s fifth anniversary, we will look back at our progress and accomplishments, as well as hear updates from state agencies. The final 2023 Commission Meeting will be held on October 18.  


JCMH Legislative Progress 

In September 2022, the JCMH submitted a slate of civil, criminal, and juvenile legislative proposals related to mental health law to the Texas Judicial Council. Each of those proposals has made its way into a current House or Senate Bill. H.B. 5088 and S.B. 2479 are companion bills that contain JCMH’s seven criminal law proposals and JCMH’s four civil law proposals, as well as a package of juvenile law proposals. H.B. 1359 and companion S.B. 1585 also contain the same juvenile law package. It is exciting to watch the 88th Legislature prioritize mental health in Texas.  


John J. Specia, Jr. (Ret.)
Jurist in Residence
To receive the JIR Resource Letter and other special announcements, link below:
Judicial Commission on Mental Health | TexasJCMH.gov