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J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2010;38(4):581-9.

Learning to collaborate: the teaching legacy of Howard Zonana in forensic psychiatry.

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Yale University Law School, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The teaching legacy of Howard Zonana in forensic psychiatry has been in educating psychiatric fellows and law students to collaborate in advocacy on behalf of individuals whose problems exist at the intersection of the law and mental health. The author describes more than three decades of collaborative teaching with Dr. Zonana in Yale Law School legal clinics serving mental hospital patients, prisoners, children, and immigrants. In those clinics, law students and forensic psychiatry fellows have worked collaboratively in representing clinic clients and advocating for their legal and medical rights. The article reports three examples of this interdisciplinary collaboration: a project conducted at a state hospital shortly after the Supreme Court's decision in O'Connor v. Donaldson; a class action on behalf of individuals with developmental disabilities inappropriately subjected to long-term confinement in a state hospital; and an asylum case on behalf of a severely traumatized African woman fleeing persecution in her home country. The author concludes that Dr. Zonana's legacy reflects not only his contributions to medical and legal education, but also his profound commitment to effective and humane medical practice and to justice.

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