Mental Health Practice Group
The Mental Health Practice Coordinator covers mental health commitment (Ch. 51), guardianship and protective placement (Chs. 54 &55), and competency and mental responsibility (Ch. 971). Attorneys skilled in understanding mental health law can effectively represent clients against the barriers and stigma associated with mental health. The value of communication and trust with a client is important, especially in mental health law. Attorneys need to recognize that even though the client physically is present in court, mentally they may not be.
The stigma associated with mental health causes substantial liberty intrusions. Attorneys should be prepared to ensure the government is using the least restrictive methods, if any are necessary at all. We are here to provide resources to help clients remain in their home and retain autonomy over the body.
Mental health law requires both a legal and medical understanding. Doctor's may form medical opinions based on facts that are insufficient to reach a legal conclusion. We hope to provide resources on how to obtain and review records, seek an independent examiner, and cross-examine doctors.
With several recent appellate decisions, mental health law is rapidly changing. We hope this group will be a resource for understanding new decisions, brainstorming defenses, and providing materials and resources. Please share any motions, briefs, or information you have that would be helpful to mental health defense.
Colleen Ball is an attorney in the State Public Defender’s Milwaukee Appellate Office. Recently,
Colleen’s appellate litigation has focused on Chapter 51 commitments, competency to proceed, and
involuntary medication orders entered pursuant to Chapter 51, §971.14, and §971.17. She often helps
trial lawyers brainstorm issues to preserve in these cases and is happy to offer guidance on motions to
stay involuntary medication orders. Colleen co-authored the “Involuntary Civil Commitments” chapter in
Mental Health Law in Wisconsin: A Guide for Legal and Healthcare Professionals (State Bar of Wisconsin
2021). She received her B.A. from Marquette University, her M.A. from the University of North Carolina-
Chapel Hill, and her J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Solomon Gatton attended the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, graduating in 2013 with a major in History, an Honors
College certificate with thesis requirement, and two minors, in the School of Information Studies -
Information Science and Political Science. He went on to obtain his Juris Doctorate at Marquette
University Law School, graduating in 2016. While in law school he participated in a public defender
clinical, and was later hired by the Wisconsin State Public Defender. He currently works in the
Sheboygan office, handling a diverse caseload predominately related to mental health. He has extensive
litigation experience in the areas of competency, NGI, Chapter 51 Commitments, and Chapter 54/55
Guardianship and Protective Placement. Solomon approaches his cases through a holistic lens, and is
acutely aware of the challenges faced by clients and attorneys navigating these cases. Please feel free to
reach out with any questions or issues that arise.