The Texas Tech Law Review and Texas Tech Administrative Law Journal hosted the Mental Health Law Symposium on November 16, 2018, in the Lanier Auditorium. The symposium, organized by Professor Brian Shannon along with Texas Tech Law Review and Texas Tech Administrative Law Journal editors, addressed practical legal and policy issues that can contribute to improvements in our public mental health system and help address the significant challenges faced by law enforcement and our criminal justice system with regard to alleged offenders with mental illness.
Judge Steven Leifman a Miami-Dade County judge, served as the keynote speaker. Judge Liefman, who was bestowed the 2015 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence by the National Center for State Courts, presented on law enforcement and judicial cross-agency cooperation.
Another featured speaker was Major Sam Cochran (ret.) who is nationally known for his work developing the first Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model in Memphis in 1988, and for serving as the Coordinator of the Memphis Police CIT for many years.
The luncheon speaker was State Representative Andrew Murr (’03), who in addition to his Texas House Committee service, serves on the Texas Judicial Council, the Guardianship, Mental Health, and IDD Committee of the Judicial Council, and was a member of the Texas House Select Committee on Mental Health, which prior to the last legislative session was given the charge of conducting a comprehensive review of the state’s mental health system.
Four of the speakers on the program are among the recent, initial appointees to the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health. These included Justice Bill Boyce from the Texas Court of Appeals (Houston, 14th District), Denise Oncken from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Beth Lawson, Chief Executive Officer for StarCare Specialty Health System, and Horn Professor Brian Shannon of the Texas Tech School of Law.
An additional program highlight was a special presentation by the Lubbock Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team including Justice, the H.O.T. Dog.