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Mental Health Lawyers

*Note: NAMI SW WA are not lawyers. We have collected resources and information by talking with our community who has lived experience on the lawyer, judge, defendant, and family member sides. This information is not to substitute a lawyer’s experience and knowledge. Always consult a lawyer before proceeding.


Help Finding an Attorney

The NAMI HelpLine (1-800-950-NAMI (6264)) maintains a Legal Resource Service that provides you with information on legal services or refer you to an attorney from our legal directory. The directory includes attorneys who have volunteered with NAMI and are interested in working with cases relating to mental health issues. The Legal Resource Service can’t provide direct legal advice, they can provide information that will help you support your loved one.

Or view our Clark County Lawyers list.

Hiring a Lawyer

You may have a legal problem and not know how to resolve it. Lawyers have been specially trained in the law and our legal system. And the right lawyer can advise and assist you with your particular problem.

If you are facing criminal charges or a lawsuit, for example, a lawyer can help you understand your rights, and the strengths and weaknesses of your case. A lawyer knows the rules and procedures for arguing the case in court. And a lawyer can make a big difference in whether or not your side of the story is successfully presented to a judge or jury.

A lawyer can help you get a divorce, file for bankruptcy or draw up a will. Or, if you have been seriously injured or mistreated, a lawyer can help you file a lawsuit. Some lawyers handle a variety of legal problems; others specialize in certain areas of the law.

In some instances, failing to call a lawyer immediately can make the situation worse. If you are arrested or involved in a serious auto accident, for example, someone should interview the witnesses and gather evidence as soon as possible.

In other situations, preventive legal advice could save you time, trouble and money by preventing legal problems before they arise. Take, for example, the purchase of your family home or car. You might have a problem in the future if you sign the purchase agreement without completely understanding it. Or maybe you are launching a business with a partner. A lawyer could point out the advantages and drawbacks of various partnership arrangements.

These are just a few of the many situations in which lawyers can provide advice and assistance.


Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program

The U.S. Constitution guarantees that people who cannot afford an attorney in a criminal case may be appointed one. Unfortunately, this guarantee does not exist for legal assistance in civil cases. Civil legal issues include those related to family law (divorce, custody, guardianship), domestic violence, landlord-tenant disputes, overwhelming debt and bankruptcy, consumer fraud, veteran’s issues, and those faced by seniors or people living with a disability.

Founded in 1990, Clark County Volunteer Lawyers Program (CCVLP) provides legal aid to low income members of our community. We do this through the exclusive use of volunteer attorneys and with the support of funding from our community.

Contact

Housings, Evictions, Debt, Bankruptcy, Immigration: 360-334-4007

Family Law, Guardianship, Court Fines, Criminal Records: 360-695-5313

No access to a phone: info@ccvlp.org


Mental Health Court

Modeled after drug courts and developed in response to the overrepresentation of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system, mental health courts divert select defendants with mental illnesses into judicially supervised, community-based treatment.

Currently, all mental health courts are voluntary. Defendants are invited to participate in the mental health court following a specialized screening and assessment, and they may choose to decline participation.

For those who agree to the terms and conditions of community-based supervision, a team of court staff and mental health professionals works together to develop treatment plans and supervise participants in the community.

If you believe you or your family member are eligible, please call the Mental Health Court representative for the county you are called in.

Clark County

Court Coordinator: Beth Robinson
Email: beth.robinson@clark.wa.gov
Phone: 360-397-2431
Fax: 360-759-6869

Court Mailing Address:
Clark County District Court
Attn: Therapeutic Specialty Courts
P.O. Box 9806
Vancouver, WA 98666-9806

Court Level: District & Superior Court
Assigned Judge: Honorable Kelli E. Osler
Year of Inception: 2000
Capacity: 50; Enrollment: 28
Graduates since Inception: 363
Duration of Program (Months): 12 minimum
Adjudication Status: Pre & Post-Adjudication

If the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office approves a person for referral, the next step is for a risk/needs assessment completed by one of the court team members (usually the probation officer). Then all the information is reviewed by the Mental Health Court team and a decision is made whether or not to refer the person. Participation is voluntary. If the person already has a defense attorney, start with a conversation to get the ball rolling.

In Clark County, Mental Health Court is a pre-plea program that accepts both District Court and Superior Court cases. Participants who successfully complete (graduate) will have their charges dismissed. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Office acts as the gatekeeper for the court, and they must approve any pre-plea referrals. They look at the current charge, prior criminal history, mental health diagnosis including it’s connection to the criminal behavior, wishes of the victim, restitution (if any), etc.

For more information, email Beth Robinson at beth.robinson@clark.wa.gov. View the Mental Health Court brochure.

Cowlitz County

Court Coordinator: Adam Pithan
Email: pithana@co.cowlitz.wa.us
Phone: 360-414-5508
Fax: 360-414-5528

Court Mailing Address:
Cowlitz County Therapeutic Courts
ATTN: Mental Health Court
1839 First Ave 2A
Longview, WA 98632

Court Level: Superior Court
Assigned Judge: Commissioner Tierra Busby
Year of Inception: 2018
Capacity: 20-30; Enrollment: 15
Graduates since Inception: None as of November 2019
Duration of Program (Months): 18
Adjudication Status: Pre-adjudication

There are no mental health courts in Skamania or Wahkiakum counties.

View the full list of mental health courts in Washington State.