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Mental Health Issues & the New York State Courts 2017: Confidentiality, Behavioral Health & the Justice System


Speaker(s): Carol Fisler, Esq., Colleen King, David C. Kelly, Ignacio Jaureguilorda, Jennifer Correale, Jota Borgmann, Kate Wagner-Goldstein, Merrill Rotter, MD, Sheila Shea, Susan Batkin, LMSW, Suzette E. Gordon, Valerie Raine, Esq., Virginia Barber Rioja, Ph.D
Recorded on: May. 24, 2017
PLI Program #: 183399

Kate Wagner-Goldstein, Esq. is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Legal Action Center, a non-profit law and policy organization that fights discrimination against people with substance use disorders, HIV/AIDS, and criminal records.  Since joining the Center in 2010, she has represented clients facing such discrimination, as well as clients whose HIV confidentiality has been breached.  She also supervises the paralegal staff, who provide information and advocacy to thousands of clients each year.  Kate advises and trains organizations on their obligations pursuant to confidentiality and anti-discrimination laws relating to HIV and substance use disorder.  She helped update and edit the 2012 edition of LAC’s seminal book on the law governing the privacy of alcohol and drug treatment information, Confidentiality and Communication: A Guide to the Federal Alcohol and Drug Confidentiality Law and HIPAA, and LAC’s 2012 edition of HIV / AIDS Testing, Confidentiality & Discrimination: What You Need to Know about New York Law.  She also co-wrote the 2015 report, Medication-Assisted Treatment in Drug Courts: Recommended Strategies, which LAC produced jointly with the Center for Court Innovation and the New York State Unified Court System.

Prior to joining the Legal Action Center, Ms. Wagner-Goldstein was an attorney at the Bronx Defenders, where she represented parents facing neglect and abuse charges.  She is a graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School.


For the past year, Valerie Raine has served as a consultant in criminal justice to the Center for Court Innovation, the Federal Judiciary Center, and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Previously, she served as the Statewide Drug Court Coordinator for the NYS Unified Court System from 2014 – 2017 when she retired. In that capacity, she assisted in the development and operation of drug treatment courts throughout New York. From 2000 to 2014, she served as director of drug treatment court projects at the Center for Court Innovation, where she provided training and technical assistance to drug courts across the country. From 1996 to 2000, she served as project director of the Brooklyn Treatment Court, where she helped develop and manage New York City's first drug treatment court. She is a past president of the New York Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals and is a former member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Ms. Raine created and taught a course on problem-solving justice at Fordham Law School, has served as faculty for the National Drug Court Institute, and presented on drug treatment courts at numerous conferences for more than 20 years.  From 1982 – 1996, she worked at the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division in Kings County, where she was appointed attorney-in-charge in 1994. Ms. Raine is a graduate of Hunter College (1977) and the University of Virginia School of Law (1982).


Susan Batkin currently serves as the Director of the Academy for Justice Informed Practice, a program of the Center for Urban Community Service's Training Institute. Ms. Batkin has over 18 years of direct service, supervisory and program management experience inorganizations providing mental health, housing and public benefits counseling services. Before joining The Training Institute, Ms. Batkin served as the Director of Helpline Operations at the Medicare Rights Center. Prior to that, Ms. Batkin served as the Director of Social Work at the Urban Justice Center's Mental Health Project. She holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Hunter College School of Social Work.


Colleen King joined Brooklyn Defender Services in 2013 as a specialized mental health criminal defense attorney.  As part of the Mental Health Unit at BDS, Ms. King represents clients in Brooklyn Mental Health Court and mental health competency proceedings.  She also advises staff attorneys on best practices for the representation and advocacy for clients with mental health issues.

Prior to joining Brooklyn Defender Services, Ms. King practiced at the Legal Aid Society first as a staff attorney and later as a specialized attorney for clients with mental health and substance use issues.

Ms. King graduated with honors from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Ms. King frequently participates in training programs, committees, and task forces on problem solving justice, mental health and criminal justice issues.  Ms. King is a certified instructor of Mental Health First Aid, member of the faculty for The Academy for Justice-Informed Practice at CUCS and a faculty member of PLI Mental Health Issues and the New York State Courts 2015: Understanding Risk.


Suzette Elizabeth Gordon is a healthcare attorney and compliance professional whose work includes healthcare privacy regulatory compliance.  She is the Compliance Officer at the Bronx Partners for Healthy Communities, a Performing Provider System established by SBH Healthcare in Bronx, New York as part of New York State’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program.  Prior to joining BPHC, Suzette worked for six and a half years at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, first, as the Division Counsel for the Division of Health Care Access and Improvement (which included Correctional Health Services), and then, as Deputy General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer.  In her role as Deputy General Counsel, Suzette primarily counseled programs responsible for overseeing the delivery, adequacy, and quality of mental health services to New Yorkers, the Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program (involving court mandated treatment), and the Primary Care Information Project (which worked to improve the health care of New Yorkers through the expansion of health information technology).  As the Health Department’s Chief Privacy Officer, Suzette advised the agency’s programs on the laws applicable to the data acquired by the various programs, developed and implemented confidentiality policies, and conducted numerous staff trainings on privacy laws.

Earlier in her career, Suzette was a Trial Attorney at the United States Department of Justice, Civil Fraud Section, where she investigated and litigated primarily healthcare fraud cases brought pursuant to the whistleblower (or qui tam) provisions of the False Claims Act.  Suzette was also a Litigation Associate in the Washington, DC office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, and a Senior Associate in the Internal Investigation and White Collar department of Wiggin and Dana. 

Suzette received a BA in Political Science (highest honors) from NYU College of Arts and Science in 1996.  She received her law degree from NYU School of Law in 2001.


Carol Fisler is a consultant to courts, states, and local governments on mental health and criminal justice collaborations. She was the director of Mental Health Court Programs at the Center for Court Innovation, where she oversaw initiatives that address mental illness and the courts, which included the planning and implementation of the Brooklyn Mental Health Court (the first specialized court for offenders with mental illness in New York) and training and technical assistance to more than 50 mental health court planning teams in New York State and around the country. She also directed the planning and implementation of a juvenile justice/mental health initiative for young people with mental health disorders charged with delinquency and has overseen youth development and alternative-to-detention programs in Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Ms. Fisler speaks frequently at national and regional conferences and has extensive public and private sector legal and managerial experience, serving as the president of a start-up welfare-to-work staffing company, deputy general counsel of the New York City Housing Authority, assistant commissioner for legal affairs of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell. Ms. Fisler graduated from Harvard University and Stanford Law School.


David C. Kelly has been an assistant district attorney in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office since May 1, 1990, and is Chief of the Mental Health Court. He received a B.A. from Fordham University, the College at Lincoln Center, in 1984, and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, in 1987.  He is the assistant district attorney in charge of two alternative treatment programs for mentally ill criminal defendants: the EAC Link Program and the Brooklyn Mental Health Court, the first court of its kind in New York State.   He is also responsible for all felony Criminal Procedure Law (“CPL”) § 730 (fitness to proceed) and CPL § 330.20 (post-insanity defense) matters in Kings County.  In this capacity Mr. Kelly is responsible for reviewing all psychiatric fitness reports on felony cases and conducting or overseeing evidentiary hearings on fitness issues before local trial courts.  In addition, he is responsible for all litigation concerning “post-insanity defense” defendants, many of whom are committed to New York State’s secure psychiatric hospitals of Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center and Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center.  He has personally attended scores of psychiatric examinations conducted by forensic examiners, conducted hundreds of contested CPL § 730 fitness hearings, and more than two hundred CPL § 330.20 post-insanity commitment hearings.  In addition, Mr. Kelly has litigated and argued CPL §§ 730 and 330.20 cases in the New York State Appellate Division and the New York Court of Appeals.


Dr. Merrill Rotter is a forensic psychiatrist working at Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he is Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Law and Psychiatry for the Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Rotter received his B.A. /M.D. from the Boston University Six-Year Combined Liberal Arts Medical Education Program. Trained in clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and in forensic psychiatry at Yale, Dr. Rotter leads a program of teaching, research and clinical service for Einstein as well as the New York State Office of Mental Health. In his OMH role, Dr. Rotter is Director of the Division of Forensic Services at Bronx Psychiatric Center and Senior Forensic Advisor to the Commissioner.  In addition, Dr. Rotter is the Medical Director of the EAC and its NYC TASC Mental Health Programs. Dr. Rotter is Project Director of SPECTRM, a nationally-recognized research, training and treatment program aimed at helping to meet the needs individuals with mental illness who have a history of incarceration. Dr. Rotter has presented and published in areas related to forensic training, risk assessment, treatment and management of mentally ill offenders, the insanity defense and mental health diversion. In 2009, Dr. Rotter received the Award for Outstanding Teacher in a Forensic Fellowship Program from the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.


Dr. Virginia Barber Rioja obtained her Ph.D in Clinical Forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She currently holds the position of Clinical Director of Mental Health for Correctional Health Services (NYC Health + Hospitals) which oversees mental health treatment at Rikers Island. In the past, Dr. Barber Rioja worked as an attending psychologist in the Forensic Inpatient Unit of Bellevue Hospital Center. For six years, she also worked as the Clinical Director of several of the EAC Network’s mental health diversion and jail and prison reentry programs, collaborating with special jurisdiction courts in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. With the goal of bringing knowledge of forensic psychology to applied audiences, Dr. Barber Rioja provides a great deal of teaching in the community, which entails training behavioral health providers who serve justice-involved individuals, probation and parole officers, defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges across NYC. She also provides consultation on issues related to violence risk to diversion and reentry programs around the city. She has published and presented workshops nationally and internationally on the topics of criminal justice diversion, clinically informed case management, implementation of risk assessment instruments in special jurisdiction courts, and psychological evaluations in the context of immigration proceedings. Dr. Barber Rioja also maintains a private forensic practice involving immigration, state and federal court cases. She serves as faculty in the Department of Psychiatry of New York University School of Medicine and in the Psychology Department of New York University where she teaches Psychology of Violence and Psychology of Criminal Behavior. Dr. Barber Rioja is currently a board member of the American Psychological Association’s Committee on Legal Issues (COLI), and the International Association of Therapeutic Jurisprudence.


Ignacio Jaureguilorda is the director of Poverty Justice Solutions. Before joining the Center for Court Innovation, he worked as a public interest attorney for 14 years, providing free civil legal services to low-income New Yorkers. Most recently, Mr. Jaureguilorda served as director of legal services at the AIDS Center of Queens County, where he spearheaded the organization’s legal and public policy work and represented people with terminal and chronic illnesses. Previously, he served as an attorney with Housing Works, a non-profit organization that works on HIV/AIDS and homelessness issues, litigating cases involving income discrimination in real estate and discrimination against transgender individuals. Mr. Jaureguilorda has represented clients in a wide range of matters, including landlord-tenant disputes, public benefits, discrimination, immigration, and family law.


Jota Borgmann is a Senior Staff Attorney in the Disability and Aging Rights Project at Mobilization for Justice (formerly MFY Legal Services, Inc.).  Since 2008, she has litigated a number of disability rights cases on behalf of adult home residents under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Fair Housing Act.  This includes her work negotiating a landmark settlement in the deinstitutionalization case O’Toole v. Cuomo, which affects a class of about 5,000 people.  In 2012, she launched MFY’s Nursing Home Residents Project to provide free legal services to nursing home residents and their families throughout New York City.  She has published several articles, including an article on institutional food in the September-October 2012 issue of Clearinghouse Review.  She previously served as an Appellate Court Attorney at the New York State Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department.  She received her J.D. from CUNY School of Law.  Prior to obtaining her law degree, she was a policy advocate on affordable housing issues in Washington State.  Jota has served on the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Legal Issues Affecting People with Disabilities.


Sheila Ellen Shea, Esq. is the Director of the Mental Hygiene Legal Service, Third Judicial Department. Ms. Shea was appointed to the Service in 1987 and has served as its Director since 2007. She is a 1981 graduate of the University of Vermont and a 1986 graduate of the Albany Law School of Union University. Ms. Shea is a member of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA), its Elder Law Section and serves on the NYSBA Committee on Disability Rights. Ms. Shea is also the author of “The Mental Hygiene Legal Service at 50; A Retrospective and Prospective Examination of Advocacy for People with Disabilities” published by the NYSBA Government, Law and Policy Journal, (Winter 2012) and “Representing Clients With Mental Disabilities” published by the New York State Defender's Association Public Defense Backup Center Report (January - April 2013). Ms. Shea is the recipient of the 2013 Hodgson/Jacobs Law Award presented by the NYSARC Inc. for demonstrating outstanding commitment and dedication to improving the lives of people who have intellectual and other developmental disabilities and the 2014 Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York Public Service Award.


I graduated cum laude from Pace University School of Law in 1994 with a certificate in International Law.  Part of my degree was obtained through University College London where I studied and interned with a criminal barrister in 1993.  My publications include: The Torture Victim Protection Act: A Vital Contribution to International Human Rights Enforcement or Just a Nice Gesture? (Pace University International Law Review, Winter 1994 edition).  I was born and raised, and still reside, in Bronx County.  Following law school I spent 5 years as a Bronx Assistant District Attorney.  I then went on to a medical malpractice defense firm – McAloon & Friedman, P.C. – and then to Bellevue Hospital Center.  I spent a decade in-house at Bellevue, specializing in legal/psychiatric issues.  I am currently the supervising attorney for the Mental Hygiene Bureau of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  I am also a clinical instructor for the Department of Forensic Psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center.  Litigation is the mainstay of my career and continues to be.  This includes my recent expansion into school health and employment law.  I have also done a number of EEO cases pro bono, in federal court, for employees of the United States Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  I very much enjoy teaching and am honored by the request to contribute to PLI.