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Mental Health Practice Group

The Mental Health Practice Group 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.

Mental Health Group Practice Coordinators

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Solomon Gatton

Email: gattons@opd.wi.gov

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. 

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Lucas Swank

Email: swankl@opd.wi.gov

Lucas Swank joined the Madison Appellate office of SPD in March of 2023. Prior to that, he practiced in
the Black River Falls trial office for nearly five years. He received his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School with an Honors Criminal Law Concentration Certificate. He received his B.A. from UW as well. In 2022, Lucas edited a chapter in the State Bar’s Pinnacle Brown Book Criminal Defense Manual. He has co-presented at the annual SPD conference and developed a training on the impact of cannabis legalization on roadside drug detection. At the trial level he litigated scores of 51/54/55 cases and numerous involuntary medication orders and has continued to focus on mental health practice while in the appellate division. Lucas has demonstrated a willingness and desire to assist other attorneys through brainstorming and deciphering the complex metal health statutes.

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