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“Who Will Judge The Many When The Game Isthrough?”: Considering The Profound Differencesbetween Mental Health Courts And “Traditional”Involuntary Civil Commitment Courts, Michael L. Perlin
Seattle University Law Review
For forty years, we have known that involuntary civil commitment hearings are—in most jurisdictions—“charades.” When the Supreme Court noted, in Parham v. J.R., that the average length of a civil commitment hearing ranged from 3.8 to 9.2 minutes, the reaction of many who had done these cases was, “What? So long?!” The characterization of such hearings as being a “greased runway” to a state institution has never been disputed. Lawyers representing these individuals were bored or contemptuous; judges simply wanted to get cases moving; opposing counsel looked at their wrist watches to see when the ...