What are your thoughts about how social services can play a role in people getting successful
outcomes in court?
There are what I will call umbrella issues; for example, what is the root issue to a case and why is it really in court. Does the persons mental health or intellectual disabilities play a role and if so, are they
the root issue. A root issues goes beyond the face of the case. I have a case right now where my client, who suffers from severe depression is charged with an assault & battery because he was upset that his girlfriend broke up with him. After the breakup, he went home and threw his furniture around his bedroom. My client’s father tried to restrain him, and they wrestled to the ground.
The police were called and arrested my client for assault and battery. The parents want their child to get help for his
They are not interested in their son being a criminal because he suffers from depression and struggles with responding to high anxiety situations. The court issued a stay away order as part of
the assault and battery charge, so now the client is homeless. These scenarios become personaldisasters.
How do we resolve an issue like this can be complicated? We have a mental health issue; a housing issue; counseling and anger management issue all wrapped up behind a criminal charge. Although techniques in Legal representation are evolving, it is a slow process.
A mainstay in this evolution is social work services.
Attorneys who evolve will get better results than providing a more traditional result. For example, I had a female client who was supposed to get 8-11 years State time who ended up getting 2 ½ years in the county house of corrections because she participated in services while waiting for her trial.
Her codefendant on the other hand, went a more traditional route of just trying to defend herself.
The co-defendannt ended up getting 5-7 years State time. That is a big difference in legal strategies, and a big difference in the outcome.
I agree Sean, the proof is in that case. It’s amazing that being proactive can really affect the outcome of a case.
What types of services or programs have you’ve seen effective to get these types of
positive outcomes which may allow someone to turn their life around?
I have built a strong network of inpatient and outpatient programs throughout the Commonwealth.
One of my favorite programs is Steps2solutions out of Lynn and Boston because it offers a full package to an individual who may be at crossroads in their life.
A person with alcohol or drug issues, can live at Steps2solutions and tap into their network of services within the program as well as outpatient services within the community.
For many of my clients, this program offers the flexibility to have housing, be able to go to work and receive the necessary treatment for their addictions.
This is a well-run program that has helped many of my clients be more prepared throughout their legal process by building selfconfidence vs. a life of drug dependency.
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