Mental Commitments: the judicial function – a case perspective

Law school professor Art LaFrance wrote this rare and fascinating 153 page survey of the Multnomah County civil commitment court in 1995, but his observations of commitments of many ‘ordinary people’ are quite accurate for today.

LaFrance describes the curious character of the court itself, the informality of the court officers, the shabbiness of the room, the eccentricity of the law – as if he is a man from Mars, or someone interested in the civil rights of persons who are mentally ill, and not a pro tem judge for Multnomah County.

Mental Commitments: the judicial function – a case perspective, from The Journal of Psychiatry Law, Spring of 1995, by Art LaFrance.

From the U of Arizona web site: Arthur LaFrance served as Dean of the Northwestern School of Law, Lewis & Clark College from 1982 – 1986, and then taught in the areas of criminal law, evidence, healthcare delivery, and bioethics. He has also taught at the University of Maine, and served on the law faculty of Arizona State University. He has taught and published in the fields of constitutional law, criminal procedure, bioethics, and healthlaw. In 1979-80 he was a visiting scholar for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii; he has also been a visiting professor at the University of Glasgow, Murdoch University in Perth, Australia; Houston University; the University of Canterbury in New Zealand; and, most recently, he was the George Rudolph Distinguished scholar at the University of Wyoming.

Prof. LaFrance served for five years in the State of Oregon as a circuit judge pro tempore and has served on the national accrediting committee of the Association of American Law Schools. He writes in the areas of healthlaw, bioethics, and health policy. He has lectured to legal and medical audiences on bioethics, where he has published the only casebook for law school teaching, and has been a lecturer at ALI/ABA and ASLME Healthlaw conferences.

Professor LaFrance has been active with the Oregon State Bar, especially the Healthlaw Section, where he has served on the Legislative Committee and as an Editor of the Oregon Healthlaw Manual. Professor LaFrance represents litigants pro bono in public interest litigation concerning healthcare issues, including the multi-state tobacco settlement, public hospital mergers, and health insurance company for profit conversions, and most recently submitted an Amicus Brief on behalf of two dozen healthlaw professors before The United States Supreme Court, in support of Oregon’s physician-assisted death statute. He has served as the Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest Center on Health, Law and Policy, and volunteers monthly with Legal Services of Oregon, providing indigent legal services to seniors on the Oregon Coast.