Elizabeth's new book titled Representing People with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers will be published by the American Bar Association this Spring. Topics include:
  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Testing
  • Competency
  • Risk of Violence
  • Mitigation.  

Read an exc erpt. Ch. 15 Perception of Defendants with ASD by Judges and Juries by Dr. Clare S. Allely
"It is recommended that expert witness testimony be given in order to provide understanding of the behavior and presentation of a defendant with ASD during court proceedings. An expert can help the jury understand the ways in which the ASD diagnosis, in particular the different symptomologies of ASD, may have contributed to the offending behavior. When given this information a jury may be less likely to misinterpret the defendant's behavior and presentation during court proceedings,

Nonetheless, a number of courts in the United States do not permit psychiatric experts to provide testimony about Asperger's syndrome (AS) or high-functioning ASD (hfASD).

However, it is important to for the jury of the defendant's ASD diagnosis because it may help the jurors understand why the defendant may present the way he/she does during the court proceedings. If no expert testimony regarding the defendant's ASD diagnosis is provided to the jury, the jury's negative perception of the demeanor and the apparent lack of remorse exhibited by the defendant with ASD may be particularly detrimental and have harmful consequences (e.g., Cea, 2014; Haskins & Silva, 2006) such as longer sentences. It is crucial that a diagnosis of ASD be considered as a potential mitigating factor. For someone with a diagnosis with ASD, a long sentence may be particularly damaging (see, e.g., Cea, 2015)."
FCC Approves Three-digit Suicide Hotline
After a vote in December of 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed to move forward with plans that would designate a three-digit number to direct callers to the National Suicide Hotline. The three-digit number is 988 and calls to mind the emergency nature of 911 calls. FCC staff recommended this number as it is short and easy to remember.
The five-member commission unanimously voted to approve the proposal, which is now open to rulemaking and public comment. The new proposal would call for carriers to implement 988 as a national suicide prevention hotline within 18-months. The FCC is now asking for input on implementation.
In its report to Congress, the FCC noted that, in order to implement the hotline, it would cost $520 million for the first year and $175 million for the second year. These costs would include an increase in hotline call center personnel and a widespread public awareness campaign.
Study Suggests Early Exposure to Dogs Can Help Curb Development of Mental Illness
​It is a well-known fact that the faithful companionship of a dog can help with an individual’s emotional well-being. Now a new  study  out of Johns Hopkins University suggests that exposure to man’s best friend at a young age may decrease a person’s chance of developing schizophrenia.
The Study
The study looked at patients at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore. These adult patients consisted of 396 people with schizophrenia and 381 with bipolar disorder. The individuals were compared to 594 healthy controls. Participants in the study reported whether they had a dog or a cat when they were growing up.
More than half of the study subjects reported having dogs before their 13th birthdays. About a third reported having cats. Researchers, accounting for other factors, found that exposure to a dog at any time in childhood led to a 24% decrease in the incidences of schizophrenia. Subjects exposed to dogs at birth were 55% less likely to have schizophrenia than those individuals who had no exposure at all. There was no significant effect with exposure to cats, and neither animal affected the development of bipolar disorder.
Elizabeth Kelley
Criminal Defense Attorney
Elizabeth Kelley is a criminal defense lawyer with a nationwide practice specializing in representing people with mental disabilities. She is the co-chair of The Arc's National Center for Criminal Justice and Disability, serves on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, Criminal Justice Section Council, and Editorial Board of the Criminal Justice Magazine Learn more .
Further Reading
Managing Your Mental Health Amidst COVID-19: A Conversation With Licensed Therapist Marline Francois-Madden
COVID-19 is impacting people around the world in so many different ways. The global pandemic has shifted the public consciousness and many people are plagued with uncertainty about their job, finances and the state of our world moving forward. For those experiencing mental health conditions, the stress from COVID-19 can exacerbate their conditions.
Traditional insanity defense isn't constitutionally required, SCOTUS rules
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the due process clause doesn’t require states to offer a traditional insanity defense based on a defendant’s inability to distinguish right from wrong.

The Supreme Court  ruled  6-3 in the case of Kansas death row inmate James Kraig Kahler, who  was convicted  of killing four family members in 2009. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the majority opinion, joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.
For Those With O.C.D., a Threat That Is Both Heightened and Familiar
For people who have been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the coronavirus pandemic creates blurry lines between safety and compulsion.

The coronavirus outbreak has turned many of us into nervous germophobes, seeking to protect ourselves from infection by washing our hands methodically and frequently, avoiding unnecessary contact with so called high-touch surfaces and methodically sanitizing packages, our homes and our bodies.
Allegori helps those with autism find focus
Amid the national and global focus on the coronavirus pandemic, is World Autism Day, observed today, and in this context Business Day highlights neuroscientist Kheston Walkins and the work his company, Allegori, does with people who are autistic.

Mind over matter is no easy feat for anyone regardless of if they are on the autistic spectrum or not.

Students of varying capabilities may have been taught reading, writing and arithmetic, but few are taught self-regulation – the ability to control body functions such as heart rate and mood.
People who have been overlooked during COVID-19: Adults with disabilities
As coronavirus threatens the country, government officials have taken great care to speak directly to various groups of  Americans, including seniors Millennials, Gen Z  and nearly everyone in between. But there is one group of Americans officials have so far failed to address directly, reflecting one of this nation’s oldest and most harmful prejudices: adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
From hospital bed to jail cell: Arrest of mentally ill graffiti suspect was inhumane, critics say
Brandon Hayes had come unmoored again. For weeks, he wandered around Baton Rouge during a mental health crisis, spray-painting nonsensical messages along the way before finally checking himself into the hospital for treatment.

His mother breathed a sigh of relief, but that feeling didn't last long.

Baton Rouge police officers soon showed up at the behavioral health center where Hayes was being treated, placed him under arrest and transported him to the parish jail — an outdated and overcrowded detention center that even the warden has called "deplorable" for mental health patients.
FREE E-Book! Families' Guide to Working with a Criminal Defense Lawyer

When your family member with a mental disability has been arrested or charged with a crime, it can be a confusing and challenging experience that leaves you unsure of where to turn for answers. Here are some key things families can do to help the defense attorney handling their case.
Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Best Practices Manual

Elizabeth’s book, Representing People with Mental Disabilities was published by the American Bar Association a little over a year ago. Response to the book has been overwhelming with many attorneys and activists happy to have such a resource.Topics include Competency, Sanity, Neuroimaging, False Confessions, and Prison Conditions.