Jon Duckstad was the court-appointed attorney for Ray Sandford. Ray feels that Mr. Duckstad has not adequately represented his interests, and in our opinion he’s correct! [update: 13 July 2009]
UPDATE TO BELOW 13 July 2009: Because of public attention to Ray’s campaign and because of family support, Ray now has a new attorney. Therefore, thankfully, Mr. Duckstad is no longer Ray’s attorney. As you can see from below this is almost certainly a positive development.
Name: Jon Duckstad, Attorney
City/State: Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Connection to Ray’s case: Mr. Duckstad was appointed by the courts to represent Ray Sandford, because Ray could not afford his own attorney. Ray has said repeatedly he has been very disappointed by the representation he has received.
In our opinion, Ray is absolutely correct. Unfortunately he is not alone. Countless individuals in the mental health system receive grossly inadequate legal representation from court-appointed attorneys.
Here are a few examples of the kind of legal representation Mr. Duckstad has given Ray:
- Lack of preparation: Ray says that he has spoken with Mr. Duckstad only for a few minutes before a hearing.
- Incompetent defense: At Ray’s re-hearing in December, according to eye-witnesses Mr. Duckstad apparently called a single expert witness to support Ray. This was a psychiatrist who testified he had administered electroshock more than 2,000 times! In fact, he was a past psychiatrist of Ray (though had not given Ray shock personally). This “expert witness” apparently testified he felt Ray needed more forced electroshock than he was already getting!
- Refusal to use offered resources: MindFreedom has repeatedly tried to network Mr. Duckstad with a number of expert witnesses and attorneys with experience in electroshock, who offered their expertise for free. Mr. Duckstad has refused all communication with MindFreedom, except to ask to be removed from the e-mail announcement list with alerts about Ray.
- Refusal to speak out publicly: When a well-off person is abused, we often hear from their attorney in the public media. Of course, because that approach can work. However, when a court-appointed attorney defends a poor person, this attorney often cautions not going to the media, or speaking directly to the “court of public opinion.”
Action: You can write, phone or e-mail Mr. Duckstad to try to get any kind of response.
Jon Duckstad; 8079 Timber Lake Dr., Eden Prairie, MN 55347
phone: 952-903-0274 voice/fax
He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
His government contact information as city counselor is: email:
More Background on Jon Duckstad, City Councilor
Based on his apparently poor representation of Ray, one would think Mr. Duckstad was shy about public interaction.
However, Mr. Duckstad is also an elected official. He is City Councilor in the small town of Eden Prairie in Minnesota:
One might also think that Mr. Duckstad lacked experience. However, a public intrerview in 2002 with Mr. Duckstad is very revealing:
According to the interview, Mr. Duckstad has actually at one time been head of the Minnesota State Bar Association, as well as Ramsey County Bar Association. According to the interview, Mr. Duckstad has had decades of legal experience, including representing people in mental health care.
Then why the poor legal representation?
In that public interview, though, Mr. Duckstad commented that he “tempered” his defense when it comes to mental health clients, with “common sense.”
We can only guess what this means, but unfortunately, it is routine for court-appointed attorneys to drop the adversarial and aggressive nature of attorneys who might work for more well-off clients. After representing people with mental disabilities for years, these attorneys attitudes can become patronizing, looking for they consider “best” for their client, rather than what the client is asking for.
Here’s the excerpt from the interview:
Q. … What other work do you do?
A. In addition, for about 30 years, I have been on the Civil Commitment Defense Panel in Ramsey County. This nine-member panel handles the defense for the mentally ill, chemically dependent, and psychopathic personality cases. These cases can result in commitment to one of the regional treatment centers, or a less restrictive placement to a community-based health facility, or in some cases the person responds so quickly to medication, they are able to go home on a discharge contract agreement with the hospital.
Q. That kind of work sounds like it can be heartbreaking?
A. You know, it is. I have clients that I have represented for over 30 years who keep coming back into the court system. The work can also be gratifying, knowing you are helping people who are vulnerable in that they may not have the ability to take care of themselves. By advocating for the least restrictive alternative to hospitalization, you are representing their liberty interests subject to the court determining their likelihood to harm themselves or others. However, your obligation to advocate for a mentally ill client’s liberty interest must be tempered with some measure of common sense, commensurate with the severity of the illness.
This comment is a tip off about the style of Mr. Duckstad’s defense. Like many other court-appointed attorneys, he makes a distinction between clients with a psychiatric diagnosis, and those without. For those with a psychiatric diagnosis he apparently is less aggressive in his defense of their liberty. In Ray’s case, as long as Ray is out of “hospitalization” Mr. Duckstad may consider that a “least restrictive alternative,” when actually forced electroshock out in the community makes your home into one of the worst kind of institutions.
IMPORTANT NOTE:MindFreedom and Ray endorse nonviolence principles. Even if an individual or agency opposes Ray’s human rights, MindFreedom and Ray ask that any communication be civil.
Political Donations by Jon Duckstad
A web site CampaignMoney.com monitors donations to political campaigns.
Based on their reports, here are Jon Duckstad’s Political Campaign Contributions.
2004 Transaction Count/Amount 3/$1,750
2002 Transaction Count/Amount 2/$850
Jon R. Duckstad
EDEN PRAIRIE, MN
self employed as Attorney, donated $500 on 09/07/2004 “P KLINE FOR CONGRESS,” a Republican.
Listed SELF-EMPLOYED/RAMSEY COUNTY PUBLIC he donated $500 on 08/30/2004 to the BUSH-CHENEY ’04 (PRIMARY) INC – Republican
Listing his employment of ATTORNEY he donated $750 on 06/16/2003 to P HATCH ELECTION COMMITTEE INC – Republican.