Taken from “Early Onset Dementia/Frontal Temporal Dementia” by Dr. Hal S. Wortzel in Representing People with Dementia: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers, Elizabeth Kelley, Editor
Representing a client suffering from FTD undoubtedly involves many challenges, starting with the fact that persons with that illness may be undiagnosed at the time of their initial legal encounter. Attorneys enhance their ability to serve such clients by being able to recognize circumstances that might suggest FTD, and arranging for appropriate forensic neuro-psychiatric consultation. Though there are very modest treatments available to address this progressive and devastating illness, the provision of a clear diagnosis, prognosis, and professional support can significantly improve quality of life and facilitate appropriate planning for patients and their families. Similarly, recognizing this illness may afford viable defense strategies when behaviors yield criminal charges, or legal remedies when decision-making born of illness runs contrary to well-established principles and values demonstrated throughout their healthy adult life.

Additional Resources
Senators push new oversight to combat federal prison crises

 A bipartisan group of U.S. senators introduced legislation Wednesday to overhaul oversight and bring greater transparency to the crisis-plagued federal Bureau of Prisons following reporting from The Associated Press that exposed systemic corruption in the federal prison system and increased congressional scrutiny.

The bill, called the Federal Prison Oversight Act, would require the Justice Department to create a prisons ombudsman to field complaints about prison conditions, and would compel the department’s inspector general to evaluate risks and abuses at all 122 federal prison facilities.
Autism and the Criminal Justice System 

People with autism spectrum disorder have potential social or communication differences and sensory sensitivities that can put them at higher risk when they become involved with the justice system, according to researchers.

Now, by looking at the different points at which someone interacts with the criminal justice system, a new policy brief identifies many opportunities to intervene, support and potentially remove autistic people from criminal justice interactions.
Coming out about my bipolar disorder has led to a new deep sense of community

A few brave professionals have publicly shared their journeys with bipolar disorder — including psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, physician Justin Bullock and entrepreneur Andy Dunn.

Recently, while serving as California's Acting Surgeon General, I chose to join their ranks.
To help dispel stigma and to spread hope, I shared my own long path to diagnosis and recovery in a National Alliance on Mental Illness conference keynote speech, social media messages and a personal essay in the LA Times.

Despite my early fears that having bipolar disorder would forever derail my path, I shared that I now attribute much of my professional and personal success to the lessons I took from my mental health journey.
Deaths foretold: The last two years of Adam Howe’s life were a cry for help that was not coming

 TRURO- It was late by the time Katherine Reed steered her SUV onto Houser Way, a quiet, tree-lined road in this bucolic seaside town.

Reed, a local business owner arriving home after a night out with colleagues, saw something that gave her pause: a fire burning in her neighbor’s front yard.
Standing beside it was Adam Howe, the son of her longtime friend and neighbor, Susan Howe.

Like others in Truro — where Susan was a well-known figure — Reed knew of the troubles Susan had with her only son: substance abuse and mental health issues that plagued him in recent years. In previous months, police visited Susan’s home multiple times for well-being checks, she said; once, she’d witnessed Adam Howe lying naked in the driveway, refusing to move.
Guest column: If his competency is in question, Benjamin Cole should not be executed

Benjamin Cole lives in darkness. For years, he has lain in his death row cell at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary with the lights out, his eyes shrouded with old clothing, often covered in his own filth.

 He moves little, and with difficulty, sometimes crawling on his cell floor. He rarely speaks to anyone, but when he does, his words are either monosyllabic or incomprehensible to those who do not live within his religious delusions. 
Sparing the Parkland Shooter: Lessons From a Challenging Case

On February 14, 2018, in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Parkland, Florida, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz carried an assault rifle into a building on the campus of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, from which he had recently been expelled for misbehavior.

He methodically moved through the building for over six minutes, shooting 34 people (some multiple times) and killing 17, 14 of them students. He threw down his weapon and walked towards a nearby town, where he was arrested an hour later.

In 2021 Cruz pled guilty, his lawyers hoping that a life sentence would be granted. But the state continued to pursue a death sentence and an unusual penalty proceeding ensued. What made it unusual is that such a proceeding typically follows a few days after a guilt trial, and before the same jury that issued a guilty verdict.
Representing People with Mental Disabilities: A Criminal Defense Lawyer's Best Practice Manual

Published by the American Bar Association. Topics include:

  • Competency
  • Sanity
  • Malingering
  • Neuroscience
  • Jail and Prison Conditions
Representing People with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Practical Guide for Criminal Defense Lawyers

Published by the American Bar Association. Topics include:

  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Testing
  • Competency
  • Risk of Violence
  • Mitigation
Suicide and its Impact on the Criminal Justice System

Published by the American Bar Association. Topics include:

  • Co-Occurring Disorders
  • Testing
  • Competency
  • Risk of Violence
  • Mitigation.
Families' Guide to Working with a Criminal Defense Lawyer
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