University of Louisville Law Faculty Blog

A Hidden Madness


My memoir A Hidden Madness has now sold over 100 copies in one month.  I have gotten many favorable comments, and it has a 5 star rating on  Again, it may be ordered from Amazon at  I encourage you to get a copy and enjoy.

A Hidden Madness


What do you call a person who suffers from a severe mental illness?  First, she is not mentally ill, she has a mental illness—she isn’t a diagnosis, she has a disease.  Second, he doesn’t like the tone of “mental illness.”  Ditto “insane”—it’s a legal concept, not a medical term, and it’s rife with stigma.  As for “crazy,” nuff said.  Clearly, the preferred term among those who have a severe mental illness is “mad” or “madness.”  Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison’s famous memoir of life with bipolar disorder is An Unquiet Mind:  A Memoir of Moods and Madness.  Oscar winning actress Patty Duke wrote A Brilliant Madness about her experience with that disease.  Elyn Saks’ New York Times bestseller recounting her life with schizophrenia is entitled The Center Cannot Hold:  My Journey Through Madness.  In film, a favorite title is The Madness of King George.

Where do I come down on this issue (and why do I care about it in the first place?)?  My new memoir, which is available for $15.95 on at, is called A Hidden Madness.  It tells the story of my battle, for much of my life, with bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness.  It has seen five psychiatric hospitalizations for as long as six months, chronic symptoms of mania or depression, disability, and intense suffering.  Until 2008 I suffered in silence—my madness was hidden—due to my overwhelming fear of stigma.  On the positive side, I have bested my disease sufficiently to reach the pinnacle of my profession such that I am a full professor at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville and have taught for over twenty-five years.  I have a successful marriage and two wonderful daughters.  I’ve been recognized as a national, and even international, expert on reducing the incidence of domestic violence.  And, since I have become one of the only two law professors in the nation publicly to acknowledge having a severe mental illness I have both given an award-winning series of over fifty talks about successful professionals with madness and written about the subject in a number of much-acclaimed articles, including an abbreviated account of my life (for more about these activities visit my Web page at  A Hidden Madness now relates my complete saga, with all its ups and downs.

I hope the foregoing will inspire you to order a copy of A Hidden Madness and read the uplifting story of the ultimately happy life of one with madness.  Please send me your reaction at or post your comments at  Happy reading!  

Mortgage Crisis's Effect on Registry of Deeds


Earlier in the week, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial criticizing the Massachusetts Attorney General's lawsuit against banks that did not follow the law on foreclosure procedures. The essence of the editorial is that "processing errors don't necessarily rise to the level of deception and fraud." Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts AG, responded today with a letter to the editor in the WSJ. Her main argument: "The large banks fraudulently signed foreclosure documents, made deceptive and false promises to provide loan modifications and unlawfully foreclosed on homeowners without even holding the mortgages."

I am not posting to argue the merits of the editorial or the AG's case. It was the next letter that I found interesting, as a propery professor. As part of first year property, I always cover the real estate filing system in some detail. The idea is that by creating a public system for recording instruments relating to title to property, ownership to such property is made transparent and the process for transfering property is made more efficient. However, for the system to work effectively, it is necessary for the parties that utilize the system to file timely and accurate documents. Which leads me to the letter written by John L. O'Brien, Southern Essex District Register of Deeds:

Sloppy paperwork? No, fraudulent paperwork, and let's not blame Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley for prolonging the pain for homeowners. Let's blame the real culprits who have filed to date 31,897 fraudulent documents in my Registry of Deeds alone. I challenge anyone who comes to see these stacks of documents to honestly say that this crime scene is merely "sloppy" paperwork. The real pain for homeowners is the havoc that these lenders have wreaked on the chains of title and property rights.

The solution is not to allow the lenders that created a "cyber" registry for their own self-profit to be slapped on the wrist for using fraudulent documents and for failing to record assignments of mortgages. I have been fighting for the "little guy" and I am very happy that the Massachusetts's AG has chosen to do the same.

John L. O'Brien, Letter to the Editor, Wall Street Journal, 7-8 Jan. 2102: A14. Print.

As my students (hopefully) will recall, anything filed in the registry that causes confusion as to who actually has rights to the property is a "cloud on title," making title unmarketable. Since most buyers will only accept marketable title, such clouds make selling property difficult. If the banks' failure to accurately record mortgage assignments and to follow foreclosure procedures causes homeowners to have diffculty in selling their homes, this is in fact a terrible result which will dramatically interfere with the operation of the real estate market that has up until now been efficient and effective. While the banks' actions can be dismissed as merely sloppy paperwork, shouldn't such banks be held to account when that same sloppy paperwork dramatically depreciates the single most valuable asset owned by most people?

Warns Institute - Call for Manuscripts


Twenty-Ninth Annual

Carl A. Warns Jr. Labor & Employment
Law Institute

Call for Proposals and Manuscripts

The Twenty-Ninth Annual Carl A. Warns Jr. Labor &
Employment Law Institute invites you to submit a proposal to speak on a labor
law or employment law topic.  We are accepting proposals on important or cutting-edge developments on issues that are relevant to practitioners. Some suggested topics are: wage and hour issues involving independent contractors and the Internal Revenue Service, the Dukes decision and class actions in employment law, and issues involved in advising those engaged in
non-traditional service relationships, rather than traditional employment
relationships, about their contracts.   

The Institute will take place on June 21 & 22, 2012, at
the Downtown Marriott in Louisville, Kentucky. 
Attendees will be a nice blend of practitioners, public servants, and
professors.  If you are unfamiliar with Louisville, it is a great place to spend a few days.  More
information is available at

Proposals must be submitted by midnight Friday, December 30.  Based on your proposal, you may receive an invitation to speak at the Institute. Speakers at the Institute will also have the opportunity to submit a manuscript that will be published in the University of Louisville Law Review
Warns Institute Colloquium Issue, subject to space availability, a review of
quality, and entrance into and compliance with the University of Louisville Law
Review Author Agreement.  Manuscripts will be due March 1, 2011.  Selection of
manuscripts for publication will occur in April.  All speakers must ultimately have some type of written material, such as an outline, article, or work in progress to
include with the conference materials. 

Please submit your proposals to Ariana Levinson at and copy Elisabeth Fitzpatrick at  There is no page limit or standard format for proposals although a short succinct proposal is preferred.  You are welcome to send draft manuscripts in addition to your proposal, if you desire.


Win a Free Patent Bar Review Course


Gene Quinn, an LL.M. classmate of mine from Franklin Pierce Law Center (now known as UNH Law and the Franklin Pierce Center for Intellectual Property), runs the web site As part of his efforts to be the top-rated IP website in the ABA Journal Blawg 100, he is running a promotion to encourage people to vote, where he is giving away 1 free PLI Patent Bar Review Course. If you are thinking of taking the patent bar, check it out here:

2011 Mental Health Speeches


2011 has been a busy year for me:  I have delivered 19 mental health speeches during the year.  Those include 9 to classes of nursing students spread among 4 different schools, 6 to occupational therapy students at 3 different schools, and 2 to social work students at U. of L.'s Kent School of Social Work.  I find talks to students in the medical field particularly rewarding as they let me make important points to the healthcare workers of tomorrow.



What the Awards Tell Us about Labor Arbitration of Employment Discrimination Claims

I had the pleasure of presenting my work in progress regarding "What the Awards Tell Us about Labor Arbitration of Employment Discrimination Claims" at the Sixth Annual Labor and Employment Law Colloquium at Southwestern Law School on Friday, September 16, and then, again yesterday at a University of Louisville Louis D. Brandeis School of Law facutly workshop.  I received helpful comments and will post again when the manuscript is ready for public circulation.  For now, I am attaching my slides.

Recent Developments


I have been named to the Board of Advisors of the newly created Mental Health Law & Policy Journal.

To date in 2011 I have spoken about "Severe Mental Illness, Stigma, and the Value of Treatment" to nine groups.  They include nursing, social work, psychology, and occupational therapy students.

Chilling Trademark Dispute

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article today about a trademark dispute in Louisiana. Apparently a group of snowball vendors have taken issue with another vendor's attempt to claim trademark rights in certain snowball flavors (a snowball is a shave ice treat). A perfect dispute on a hot summer day!