Skip to main content

2020 Judicial Summit on Mental Health

This year's Summit was a resounding success with over 1,500 total attendees! Thanks very much to all who joined online and to the many contributors who made it possible. We hope to see you all in 2021! 

To request continuing education credit for the 2020 Judicial Summit on Mental Health, please complete the Session Recordings Continuing Education Credits Form (survey closed) after viewing the session recordings. You will be emailed a certificate of attendance for the requested sessions. 

Welcome by:

Hon. Nathan Hecht, Chief Justice, The Supreme Court of Texas

Hon. Sharon Keller, Presiding Judge, The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Hon. Jane Bland, Justice, The Supreme Court of Texas; Co-Chair, Judicial Commission on Mental Health

Hon. Barbara Hervey, Judge, The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; CoChair, Judicial Commission on Mental Health

In 2019, the 86th Legislature established the Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium (TCMHCC) to leverage the expertise and capacity of the health-related institutions of higher education to address urgent mental health challenges and improve the mental health care system in Texas for children and adolescents. This session will highlight TCMHCC’s vision, mission, and initiatives.

Presented by:

Andy Keller, Ph.D., President & CEO, Linda Perryman Evans Presidential Chair of the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute

Luanne Southern, Executive Director, Texas Child Mental Health Care Consortium

During the pendency of a case, a juvenile court judge may receive information that suggests that a juvenile has a MI or ID. Although such a condition may not render the juvenile unfit to proceed, it may warrant special consideration and management of the juvenile’s case. Texas Family Code Chapter 55 subchapter B allows for a child with MI to be diverted from the juvenile justice system and into a mental health commitment–without ever touching on the issue of fitness. In this session, Bill Cox will discuss this subchapter, how to go about utilizing it, and in what types of cases it may be appropriate to implement.

Presented by:

William R. "Bill" Cox, First Assistant Public Defender, El Paso County Public Defender's Office

This session is a panel discussion focused on the creation and implementation of Juvenile Mental Health Courts and diversions. Attendees will hear strategies used to establish effective programs and improve outcomes for youth with mental health issues, and some lessons learned along the way. The programs highlighted include Harris County’s diversionary FIRST program; Bexar County’s pre-adjudication MIND Court; Denton County’s post-adjudication SOAR Court; and Williamson County’s comprehensive trauma-informed juvenile court and juvenile justice department.

Presented by:

Laura Prillwitz, Deputy Director of Juvenile Probation Services, SOAR Court Coordinator, Denton County Juvenile Probation

Daphne Previti Austin, Attorney, Law Offices of Shawn C. Brown

John Jordan, Juvenile Division Chief, Harris County District Attorney’s Office

Matt Smith, LPC-Supervisor, Assistant Executive Director, Director of Mental Health Services, Williamson County Juvenile Services

Adolescence now lasts longer than ever, and the adolescent brain is surprisingly malleable. These new discoveries make this time of life crucial in determining a person’s ultimate success and happiness. In this lecture, Laurence Steinberg, one of the world's leading authorities on adolescence, will discuss the teenage brain’s potential for change, the elongation of adolescence as a developmental stage, and the implications of each for how we parent, educate, and understand young people.

Presented by:

Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at Temple University

Spend the afternoon with a panel of experts following Joe Smith, a hypothetical individual with IDD, as he makes his way through the Sequential Intercept Model—in and out of services, interactions with police, diversion possibilities, the judicial system, and competency restoration services.


Haley Turner, Associate Commissioner for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services, HHSC


Clair Benitez, Continuity of Care Coordinator, Health & Specialty Care System, State Supported Living Centers

Hon. Nelda T. Cacciotti, Judicial Staff Counsel, Mental Health Magistrate, Tarrant County

Dawna Campbell, Ph.D., Forensic Psychologist, HHSC State Supported Living Center Mexia

Beth Mitchell, Supervising Attorney, Disability Rights Texas

Hon. Kirk D. Noaker, Magistrate Judge, Burnet County

John Price, Ph.D., Director of Psychological Services, San Antonio Police Department

Maria Quintero-Conk, Ph.D., FAAIDD, IDD Authority Services Psychologist, Tri-County Behavioral Healthcare

Melissa McRoy Shearer, Director, Travis County Mental Health Public Defender

IDD at Intercept 0 - Community Based Services and State Supported Living Centers: Video
Intellectual and developmental disabilities exist on a spectrum, and they can present mild to near insurmountable communication challenges. This session is intended to help system participants learn to identify possible intellectual or developmental disability in clients, how to communicate in ways that significantly improve understanding and support appropriately placed trust, and the array of community services and supports that exist for individuals with IDD.

IDD at Intercepts 1 – 2 - Law Enforcement & Courts: Video
Once an individual in the community encounters law enforcement, the two most common facilitators for mental health support become the road-side law enforcement officer and a magistrate judge, in the event of arrest. Along with our panelists from the previous session, Dr. Price will discuss best practices for law enforcement officers who encounter individuals who potentially have IDD, and what other options exist for the officer other than taking that individual to jail. Judge Noaker will identify the common magistration procedure, tools available to the magistrate, and what resources exist specific to an individual with IDD.

IDD at Intercept 3 - Competency Restoration for People with IDD: Video

Joe Smith has become entangled in the judicial system—he is headed to court and might need competency restoration services. This presentation is designed to provide information about interactions with attorneys and judges in court settings and competency restoration for individuals with Intellectual Developmental Disabilities. Participants will learn considerations that should occur during court, factors to consider when providing competency restoration to individuals with Intellectual Disability, issues that trainers must consider, and ways to help individuals with Intellectual Disability improve their competence.

The Miami-Dade Criminal Mental Health Project comes to life in this documentary, following a team of dedicated public servants working through the courts to steer people with mental illness—as their court cases hang in the balance—on a path from incarceration to recovery. In 2000, Judge Leifman started the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, which aims to divert individuals with mental illness who have committed low-level offenses from incarceration and instead into community-based care.

Lived Experience Expert - Kevin Garrett, Peer Policy Fellow, Texas Jail Project: Video

Hear Kevin Garrett’s compelling story about how he has turned his experience with addiction, homelessness, and incarceration into advocacy to benefit others.
Learn what obstacles he faced and how a retired judge was pivotal in his new career.

Lived Experience Expert - Mary Wright, Tarrant County: Video

Take a journey with Mary Wright. After experiencing childhood trauma, this once stereotypical mom endured incredible loss, fell into the darkness of her mental illness, and had a run-in with the criminal justice system. Through her work in Judge Carr’s specialty court, she now leads a fulfilling, happy, resilient life and continues to sing the praises of specialty courts.

Lived Experience Expert - Adrienne Kennedy, Executive Committee, Immediate Past President, National Alliance on Mental IllnessVideo

Many of you know Adrienne Kennedy as the hard-working and dedicated Immediate Past President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Discover her personal story as a mother who lost her son to mental health issues. Hear her compelling story and how she has channeled that loss into systemic change.

Lived Experience Expert - Claudia Chihadi, college student: Video

Hear the impactful story of an autistic individual with physical disabilities and other differences that are sometimes misunderstood as antisocial or willful behavior. Claudia will share challenges and solutions to avoiding the justice system.

For over 15 years, Dr. Cameron Wedding has delivered implicit bias training that is informative and engaging. This session will explore the social determinants of health and offer knowledge that can mitigate bias at decision-points. Dr. Cameron Wedding’s approach is solution-based and designed to bridge gaps across disciplines and systems.

Presented by:

Rita Cameron-Wedding, Ph.D., Professor of Women’s Studies and Ethnic Studies at Sacramento State University

This session will highlight practical tips regarding the requirements and options under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 16.22, options for diversion, emerging alternatives for competency restoration, and opportunities for coordination between the courts and local mental health authorities.

Presented by:

Brian D. Shannon, Horn Distinguished Professor, Texas Tech University School of Law

Hon. Ryan Kellus Turner, Executive Director, Texas Municipal Courts Education Center

Texas Law requires counties, working with Local MH or IDD Authorities, to collect and report data on mental health. Join our panelists as they discuss how their counties began collecting this data in a meaningful way, why this data is so important, what it can tell you about your county’s current mental health practices, and how to use it to combat disparities.

Presented by:

Virginia Brown, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Population Health, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas at Austin, Dell Medical School

Hon. Tamara Needles, Judge, 427th Criminal District Court, Travis County

Jerry Freshour, Director of Crisis and Community Outreach Services, Gulf Coast Center, Galveston, Texas

Connie Almeida, Ph.D., LSSP, Director, Fort Bend County Behavioral Health Services

Tune in as panelists discuss the creation and implementation of Adult Mental Health Courts and diversions. Attendees will hear strategies used to establish effective programs and improve outcomes for adults with mental health issues, and some lessons learned along the way. The programs highlighted include Tarrant County’s Mental Health Diversion Program; the 38th Judicial District Specialty Court Program; Bexar County’s Mental Health Court; and tactics used by Bexar County Judges to assist and divert individuals without having an official mental health court.


Hon. John J. Specia, Jurist-in-Residence, Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health


Hon. Brent A. Carr, Judge, Tarrant County Criminal Court No. 9

Hon. Camile G. DuBose, District Judge, 38th Judicial District

Hon. Yolanda Huff, Judge, Bexar County Court at Law No. 12

Hon. Grace Uzomba, Judge, Bexar County Court at Law No. 2

Join Judge Mathews as she discusses the variety of services available in Texas communities for individuals with mental illness and intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Presented by:

Hon. Stacey Mathews, Judge, 277th District Court, Williamson County

COVID-19 has forever changed the landscape of the Texas Judicial System. Learn from David Slayton, the Administrative Director of the Texas Office of Court Administration, the timeline of changes that have occurred and the virtual courtrooms of the future. Learn how the first jury trials have been conducted and discover what the Judiciary has been doing to continue providing an efficient and constitutional forum for litigants during this trying time.

Presented by:

David Slayton, Administrative Director, Texas Office of Court Administration