WOULD YOU BUY A USED COURT FROM THIS JUDGE?
You've been locked up in a psychiatric hospital against your will. Maybe
your family got a warrant or called the cops on you, maybe you went into
the emergency room and they kept you. The hospital wants to give you powerful
drugs. You don't want to be drugged, and you want to get out.
This is your day in court. You know you're not suicidal or about to attack
anyone. You know you have a right to refuse the drugs. You think the judges
will listen to your side of the story, and maybe you wIll get out.
- Anything your boyfriend, mother, landlord, or caseworker told the psychiatrist
or hospital staff is going to be used against you. Even though it's hearsay.
- The psychiatrist whom you may have trusted is going to tell your secrets
and make you look bad. If you didn't talk to him/her, you have, probably
been labeled "paranoid."
- On the subject of paranoia, you might think that is a very serious
and frightening word to describe somebody. You have said it jokingly though.
Guess what? If you complain about being mistreated, if you are afraid
of being harmed in the hospital, or if you use words like "poison"
to describe their drugs, this word "paranoia" will be used quite
seriously about you.
- You know that when you testify, you sit in the witness stand. That
shows your testimony is serious. But nobody really cares what you say,
and you don't get to take the stand. (Maybe the~Judge is afraid of catching
something from you .)
- After you speak,the judge might ask you questions that he won't let
you explaIn your answers to. This is good cross-examination, and you might
have expected it from the hospital's attorney, but isn't the judge supposed
to be neutral and listen for the whole truth? Or again, if you speak well,
the judge might refuse to consider your testimony for herself, but turn
to the psychiatrist and ask if anything you said changed his/her opinion.
(Of course not, he/she came there to keep you locked up and/or have you
- No matter what you say, the overwhelming likelihood (98% aocording
to the New York Times) in the Brooklyn Mental Hygiene Court is that you
will have to do what the psychiatrists want. Judge Duberstein brags that
she attended a seminar where psychiatrists instructed her about Iistening
to their testimony. Rivera acts as if he has done the same. Neither of
them upholds the law, which says you have to be dangerous to be held against
your will; and only if you are unable to decide for yourself, can the court
consider the "risks and benefits" of the drugs to decide whether
to force it on you.
- For your information, the drug of choice for involuntary administration
is Haldol, because it comes in a long-acting form and they only have to
be bothered once a month to inject you. Haldol is one of the most feared
and complained of drugs, with side effects ranging from unbearable need
to keep moving, to muscular spasms, to low blood pressure, sudden death,
Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (toxicity that can be fatal) and tardive
dyskinesia, which is irreversible and gives people the uncontrollable movements
that stigmatize you and can cause you to choke.
Judge Maxine Duberstein has held onto the Mental Hygiene court in Brooklyn
as her private territory for 12 years. Her alternate, Judge Reinaldo Rivera,
has apparentIy been sworn to uphold the traditions as she estabIished them.
You might have seen leaflets about Duberstein earlier this year, when
we were trying to stop her from being recertified. Althouggh she has decided
to resign at the end of this year, Rivera in the driver's seat is nothing
to look forward to.
Several times in the past, people had attempted to put in a rotation
system, where judges would serve in this part for a month at a time. There
is a 1ist of five judges, including Rivera, who are supposed to participate
in this rotation. (This is how it is done in other boroughs.)
If you wish to participate in the campaign to bring fairness and justice
to the Mental Hygiene Court, please contact us at the address below.
You may also write to Judge Jonathan Lippman, Chief Administrative Judge,
270 Broadway, New York, NY 10007, expressing your concerns.
Bet Your Ass We're Paranoid * P O Box 471173 * Brooklyn
NY 11247 * (212) 591-0195