Attorneys, Judges, and Court Personnel as First-Responders: Strategies to Identify and Mitigate Trauma Among Veteran Participants with PTSD and Operational Stress Injuries in Veterans Treatment Court Settings – Forensic stress, which is generated solely by involvement in the criminal litigation, often aggravates symptoms of existing mental health conditions for veterans facing charges. It impairs the defendant’s abilities to make reasoned legal decisions and challenges attorneys and other professionals in the justice system to identify and counteract these powerful forces. This Webinar describes methods to assist attorneys and other members of a treatment team in diverting the client from his or her own symptoms – not only from confinement. It also identifies some risks inherent in the professional’s exposure to a Veteran’s own traumatic experiences.
For all participants, the Webinar introduces the concept of “Psycholegal Softspots” as particular aspects of criminal litigation that are known to trigger stress reactions, explores “Psychological First Aid” as a vehicle to mitigate crises, and discusses PTSD trigger awareness plans as practical tools tailored meet an individual participant’s unique needs in a Veterans Treatment Court program. For attorneys, the Webinar also previews ethically acceptable interventions that do not transform the lawyer into a mental health professional and identifies the hallmarks of effective collaboration with mental health professionals during the course of the representation.
Major Seamone is a Professor and Director of the Legal Writing Program at Mississippi College School of Law. He also serves as a Major and Senior Defense Counsel in the United States Army Reserve. During his tours in Iraq, Germany, and at domestic military installations, he participated as both a prosecutor and defense attorney in sexual assault, complex death penalty, and other felony criminal cases involving defendants with PTSD. Major Seamone has written extensively about treatment-based sentencing alternatives in military courts-martial proceedings and the use of civilian Veterans Treatment and Mental Health Problem-Solving Courts by military organizations and commanders. He is actively involved in the development of a standardized curriculum to assist family court judges in better understanding the unique needs of military families.
University of Chicago Law School Students spent their 2012 spring break providing legal assistance in Biloxi, Mississippi.