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. 
Since the onset of the pandemic, courts throughout the country have determined to stay open to deliver justice without faltering, no matter the adjustments and sacrifices demanded, but also to protect staff … and the public from the risks of disease. We are learning new technology and practices together.”                                         
Chief Justice Nathan Hecht

In the statement above, the Supreme Court of Texas Chief Justice Nathan Hecht described how courts across the country have risen to the occasion during these challenging times. Now that staying connected is more important than ever, we hope to provide information and resources to help. The Judicial Commission on Mental Health (JCMH) has created a COVID-19 Resource Webpage, will host a virtual meeting and summit, and is offering one-time technology grants to assist courts.

August 7th Virtual Commission Meeting

The August 7th Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health Meeting will take place online. A zoom link will be emailed to JCMH Commissioners and a link will be available on our website for Collaborative Council and guests. At the meeting we will review the projects and budget for the upcoming year.

3rd Annual Judicial Summit on Mental Health

This year’s Judicial Summit on Mental Health is scheduled for November 9th and 10th, 2020. For the safety of all guests, participants, and staff, the Summit will be held virtually. The Summit brings together judges from all levels of the judiciary, academics, law enforcement, advocacy groups, prosecutors, defense attorneys, mental health and intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) service providers, representatives from various state agencies, policymakers, and persons with lived experience. The Summit is free and offers CLE, CEU, and TCOLE credit.

This year’s Summit will span over two days with four half-day sessions including a half day dedicated to issues involving youth and a half day on intellectual and developmental disabilities. Participants will receive tools to help navigate the complex mental health laws, including a new resource: the first edition of the Texas Juvenile Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Law Bench Book. For more information, or to register for the Summit, click here.

Technology Grants

These unprecedented times emphasize the need to equip those in the mental health arena with technology to support their communities in a safe, efficient manner. The JCMH wants to support courts who are experiencing difficulties in obtaining funding to purchase the equipment needed to serve their communities.

The JCMH is offering one-time $5,000 grants for courts with a mental health docket to purchase equipment or technology to continue or to 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.

Resources Available

Here are a few of the many resources on the JCMH website:

Most importantly, the JCMH staff and I urge you to stay well and safe during this crisis. Please keep us informed about what you are doing in your own communities and let us know how we can assist you.

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