Championing legal rights for the mentally disabled: Michael L. Perlin talks

Michael Perlin spoke at Stetson law school on March 23. Photo by Marissa Marchena.

Michael Perlin spoke at Stetson law school on March 23. Photo by Marissa Marchena.

“We have to be vigilant to make sure the miscarriages of justice that have been all too prevalent over the last 40 years must end,” New York Law School Professor Emeritus Michael Perlin told an audience of Stetson law school students and faculty gathered on March 23 on the Gulfport campus to hear him talk.

Professor Perlin spoke on “Power and Greed and the Corruptible Seed” Mental Disability, Prosecutorial Misconduct, and the Death Penalty.

Perlin has devoted his career to ensuring that people with mental disabilities have legal rights. The author of 27 books and 300 scholarly articles on mental disability law, Perlin is an internationally recognized expert in mental health law and the co-founder of Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates.

“It’s important for law students interested in criminal law to understand how much we need to learn about mental health because so many convicted defendants are suffering from mental illness and different mental challenges,” said Professor Judith Scully, co-director of the Social Justice Advocacy program at Stetson. “Our prisons should not be housing people with mental health issues.”

As a professor, lawyer and advocate, Perlin advises mental health professionals, hospitals, advocates, activists, lawyers and governments. Perlin has worked as a deputy public defender, director of the Division of Mental Health Advocacy in New Jersey, and at all levels of the judicial system.

“We are truly fortunate to have a person of Professor Perlin’s skills to come speak to our community,” said Associate Dean Susan Rozelle. “He is a treasure.”

Perlin was originally scheduled to deliver the Wm. Reece Smith Jr. Distinguished Lecture at Stetson’s annual Inns of Court Banquet in January but winter travel delays prevented him from lecturing in person.