Professors Deborah Dorfman, Beth Ribet
The class covers several primary themes of interest to legal practitioners, mental health clinicians, and disability advocates. These include: the treatment of trauma-related disabilities in civil and criminal courts, the role of trauma in the legal treatment of people with mental disabilities, and the relationship between trauma and disability subordination. The course also entails review of the possible policy, legal, and therapeutic points of intervention, geared towards shifting the relationship between law, trauma, and people with mental disabilities. Issues will be examined through a legal, legislative and policy lens.
Some issues explored include the following: how issues involving trauma induced mental disabilities, such as PTSD, among others, are dealt with in both civil and criminal courts; a special focus on children, who experience domestic violence and abuse in foster care or in juvenile detention which results in trauma induced mental disability and how this arises in this context related to eligibility of children in special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or for school accommodations for these disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; trauma induced mental disabilities related to veterans who return from the Iraq war with PTDS and end up in the criminal justice system or have civil issues relating to their disability such as employment discrimination, access to mental health treatment and services; issues related to women with trauma induced mental disabilities as a result of rape, abuse, trafficking, war and as refugees and prisoners/inmates both in the civil and criminal context. Furthermore, the course will probe unique legal issues presented by stigma and trauma induced disabilities and how applying the concepts of therapeutic jurisprudence can be used to address and hopefully reduce stigma. This is a predominately on-line course, requiring students to participate in a weekly chat room, discussion board, and two, day-long weekend live seminars at New York Law School. The grade is based on chat room, discussion board and live seminar participation, a take-home midterm exam and a take-home final exam. For master‘s degree and certificate students, Survey of Mental Disability Law is a pre-requisite or co-requisite.