For six months the campaign to stop Ray Sandford’s forced electroshock has gained widespread attention. Where are the lawyers in the Twin Cities who would be willing to help?
When Ray Sandford contacted the MindFreedom International office back in late October 2008 about his ongoing, involuntary electroshock, it was obvious that there was massive systemic failure in terms of supporting Ray’s quest for freedom, good care, support, minimization of trauma, justice, and much more.
Obviously, the judicial system let Ray down terribly.
Ray’s legal representation was apparently “technically” correct, but utterly violated the spirit of aggressively fighting on behalf of the client.
So this is why Ray and we went to the “Court of Public Opinion.”
This public attention has resulted in some changes.
Some folks are apparently feeling the heat of citizens looking at the situation, and are trying to get out of the kitchen:
Ray’s psychiatrist is trying to quit because of public pressure.
There are contradictory and unconfirmed reports that Ray’s general guardians Lutheran Social Service (LSS) are trying to quit.
And Ray’s attorney, Jon Duckstad, is supposedly saying he is willing to be replaced.
Now the question is:
Where are the replacements?
In other words, a bigger problem is the vacuum in real, quality, supportive mental health care and legal defense.
What would be a good replacement general guardian?
There is a potential new psychiatrist, will this work out?
And especially, where are the lawyers to help Ray?
Supposedly, attorneys say they will help the poor and indigent now and again.
It is obvious (see City Pages article quote of Pam Hoopes) that court-appointed legal representation of poor and marginalized people like Ray is abysmal.
So where are the attorneys to step forward and help?
We recently added this to Frequently Asked Questions. It’s disappointing that both American Civil Liberties Union and National Lawyers Guild have so far been unable to help Ray get what he deserves: Quality, aggressive attorney on his side, speaking out for his human rights.
WHY CAN’T RAY GET GOOD LEGAL REPRESENTATION?
That’s an excellent question!
Poor and marginalized people in the mental health system tend to have horrible legal representation. With some exceptions, often the court-appointed attorney talks to people like Ray just for minutes before hand, and has a paternalistic attitude. In other words, many court-appointed attorneys do not adequately fight, and fight hard, for their clients.
There has been an effort for months to find an Twin Cities area attorney who will volunteer to take on Ray’s case.
Unfortunately this effort has failed. MindFreedom and allies have approached many attorneys, including members of the Minnesota branch of the National Lawyers Guild, but none have taken on case.
In May 2009, Chuck Samuelson, director of the Minnesota branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, after evaluating Ray’s case, refused to take it on. This is partly because even though Ray’s attorney Jon Duckstad did not adequately fight hard for Ray, he did apparently ‘dot his i’s’ and ‘crossed his t’s,’ legally, so it may be difficult to argue that Ray had incompetent representation by the legal definition.
Leonard Roy Frank, long-time activist and shock survivor, has issued this statement about Ray’s quest to find a decent attorney:
“Attorneys, for money or pro bono, will rush to represent defendants in well-publicized cases, sometimes involving the most heinous crimes. But even after considerable national coverage, not one of them has stepped forward to offer his or her services in defense of Ray Sanford, an innocent human being under conservatorship in Minnesota, who has already undergone more than 40 court-ordered electroconvulsive ‘treatments’ (ECTs) administered weekly – against his will – and who is now apparently being set up for an unspecified number of additional brain-damaging electrical assaults. He needs to be represented by a courageous and capable attorney. Is there someone out there willing and able to help Ray Sanford end this nightmare?”
If you know of an attorney who will take on Ray’s case pro bono, please contact Ray via MindFreedom immediately.