University of Louisville Law Faculty Blog
On October 29, 2010, Mental Health America of Kentucky, a/k/a the Mental Health Association of Kentucky, Kentucky’s oldest mental health education and advocacy organization, presented me with the Clifford W. Beers Mental Health Consumer Award for 2010. The award recognizes my mental health advocacy work through my numerous speeches regarding the wrongfulness of the stigma against those with mental illnesses and the ability of some with severe mental illness who have proper treatment to be successful professionals. These especially include my talks to nursing, social work, psychology, and law students. The award is in the shape of a bell and is a facsimile of the 300 pound Mental Health America bell that was forged of melted chains and shackles that once restrained those confined in asylums because they had mental illnesses. The MHA bell is a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding and discrimination continue to bind people with mental illnesses. Today it rings out hope for improving mental health and achieving victory over mental illnesses.
In 1900 young Yale-educated businessman Clifford W. Beers, born in 1876, was first confined to a private mental institution. He would later be confined to another private hospital as well as a state institution. During these periods he experienced and witnessed serious maltreatment at the hands of hospital staff. After the publication of A Mind That Found Itself (1908), an autobiographical account of his hospitalizations and the abuses he suffered and saw during them, he gained the support of the medical profession and other prominent national leaders of the time, including the philosopher William James and the Rockefeller family, in the work to reform the treatment of those with mental illnesses. In 1909 Beers founded the "National Committee for Mental Hygiene," now named Mental Health America, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization that addresses all aspects of mental health and mental illness through advocacy, education, research, and service. He did so in order to continue the reform of the treatment of those with psychiatric diseases by promoting mental health and improving conditions for children and adults living with these health problems. Beers was a leader in the mental health field until his 1939 retirement. He died in 1943.
I spent Friday and Saturday at the Fifth Annual Labor and Employment Law Colloquium. I attended many presentations, all of which were extremely engaging and informative. I presented Friday afternoon at Washington University School of Law on a panel with Thomas Burch (Florida State) and Zev Eigen (Northwestern).
I am starting research on a project that will look at arbitration decisions in the union sector to inform the debate over the adquacy of labor arbitration for deciding statutory employment disputes. The slides of my presentation and accompanying handout are attached to this post.
Thomas proposed regulation of mandatory arbitration of consumer, employment, and other disputes to make it more fair. My understanding is that his paper is still in draft form, but I will post a link to it once it is publicly available.
Zev proposed changes to the procedures used for mandatory arbitration of employment disputes, including updating the Due Process Protocol, to make it a more optimal way to structure rights disputes. His co-authored article is available here.
I am featured in the latest issue of Duke magazine, which goes to all Duke University alumni and friends (the magazine features 3 University alumni per issue, or 18 per year). The article is at http://www.dukemagazine.duke.edu/dukemag/issues/050610/depmini-jones.html .
Also, I'm now on the Board of Directors of a new national mental health institute, the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics. Others with the Board include Dr. Oliver Sacks, noted psychiatrist and author of Awakenings; Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison, Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, MacArthur Foundation "genius award" winner, and author of a number of books including An Unquiet Mind; Nobel prize in Medicine laureate Dr. Eric Kandel; and Mrs. Michael "Kitty" Dukakis. I'm very honored to be on the Board with so distinguished a group.
Each year, the American Library Association celebrates of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians. This year's theme is "Communities Thrive @ your Library". On April 13, the House of Representatives passed H.RES.1222, a resolution to support the goals and ideals of National Library Week. This Saturday, ABC World News will air an interview about Twitter with Roberta Shaffer, Law Librarian of Congress. Next week, the law library's staff and faculty will celebrate the contributions and graduation of our library's student workers.
The March 2010 issue of the LBA's Bar Briefs includes an article by Charles E. Ricketts Jr., '68 entitled "Louisville's Public Law Library" (p. 6). The Jefferson County Public Law Library is a non-profit organization supported solely by private donations and fees allocated under KRS 172.180 and KRS 453.060. It's currently located in the Old Jail Building at 514 W. Liberty. In his article, Mr. Ricketts' provides a timeline of important events in the library's history since its inception in 1819. He also interviews Linda Robbins, the library's executive director, who reports that the fate of her library and many of Kentucky's county law libraries are at risk because of budgetary constraints.
On April 1 I spoke to the Masterpieces of the 19th and 20th Centuries class in the Division of Humanities of the University of Louisville's School of Arts and Sciences. I received the following from Dr. Allen Share, the professor in the course:
Thank you so much for speaking to my class last Thursday. Your talk about your own experiences tied in wonderfully with our book for that day--William Styron's "Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness"--as well as with our broader theme of this Humanities Division course in examining the connections between the humanities, literature, illness, and the world of medicine.
I so do appreciate your taking the time to do this, especially as my class followed directly upon the completion of a class of your own in the School of Law. I do hope that one day I can return the favor and speak to one of your classes on a subject I have studied or have personal knowledge of. One of the things I have always loved about the academy is that most of us are quite happy to be able to speak to each other's classes--I used to enjoy it every year when Dee Akers was teaching his seminar to third-year law students on Technology and the Law and asked me to talk about the history of technological change and development and to highlight some of the ways in which technology came to involve legal issues and questions. Part of what is so nice about this is that we just do it--if the more than two hours you spent with us were calculated into "billable minutes" I'm afraid that I'd have to ask the President and the Provost to siphon off some of the funds being lavished on people who have left the university and seemingly received golden parachutes for doing so! This does make me wonder--do you happen to know how I could get one of those deals?!?
Seriously Jim, I am most grateful that my good colleague "in the office next door" took the time and trouble to speak with us last Thursday. Would you be good enough to share your friend Elyn's email address with me? I should very much like to write her a bit about what I learn from her book, which I am so glad you told me about. I also will look forward to speaking with you again and to getting to know you. I was intrigued when you said you loved classical music "before Beethoven." I too love early music--I must tell you about the concerts I love attending at The Cloisters in New York City--but I also love many of the 19th century composers, with Antonin Dvorak a particular favorite. I am already looking forward to our talks about music and about much else.
Again, thank you Jim--you made a wonderful presentation to our class and I am most grateful.
Dr. Allen J. Share
Distinguished Teaching Professor
Division of Humanities
University of Louisville
303 Bingham Humanities Building
Louisville, Kentucky 40292