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. 
Additional Technology Grants Available
In his recent State of the Judiciary address, Chief Justice Nathan Hecht observed that courts were able to conduct business online during the pandemic, thereby improving participation, increasing transparency, and saving time for all involved parties. The JCMH wants to support courts who are experiencing difficulties in obtaining funding to purchase the technological equipment needed to serve their communities.
The JCMH is offering $5,000 grants for courts with a mental health docket to purchase equipment or technology to continue or improve operations and services. Allowable expenses for these funds include laptop computers, tablets, webcams, video communication services or subscriptions. For more information about the grants, click here, and to apply for grant funding, click here. The deadline for Technology Grant applications is June 30, 2021.
2022 Court Improvement Grant Applications are Open
In keeping with the Commission’s strategic goals of Collaboration, Education, and Leadership, the JCMH offers local court improvement grants for activities that demonstrably promote either or both of the strategic categories of Court Improvement or Capacity Building. Some activities may fit in more than one category. 
Prior grants have funded judicial training using the Sequential Intercept Model, technology to assist with remote hearings, and the purchase of case management software for better collaboration. The Court Improvement Grant Cycle is from September 1 to August 30 of any given year. New project grants are awarded from the date of funding through August 30. For more information about the grants, click here, and to apply for grant funding, click here. The deadline for Court Improvement Grant applications is June 30, 2021.

Community Diversion Coordinator
Pilot Program Application Now Open
The JCMH is partnering with the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) on a pilot project to enhance coordination between courts and behavioral health providers. The Community Diversion Coordinator Pilot Program is intended to divert individuals with mental illness who are charged with nonviolent misdemeanor offenses from the criminal justice system.

The JCMH requests applications from counties to participate in the pilot program. Two counties will be selected and will be provided funding for a Community Diversion Coordinator to be employed by a lead criminal court judge in partnership with a probate judge or the Local Mental Health Authority (LMHA). The Community Diversion Coordinator will work with judges, lawyers, clients, LMHA/LBHA and providers, report to the lead judge, and will have access to jail, courts, and LMHA/LBHAs, including LHMA/LBHAs and court records, case files, and 16.22 reports, as necessary to assist on case.

The JCMH has authorized $342,000.00 for the Community Diversion Coordinator Pilot Program. Funding in the amount of $171,000 will be awarded to each county over a period of two years (September 1, 2021 – August 30, 2023). Subject to program progression during the two-year period, the JCMH will provide step down funding for years three and four at 80% and 60%, respectively (September 1, 2023 – August 30, 2025).

More information and the application can be found here. The deadline for applications is June 30, 2021.

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