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2023 JCMH Summit

The 2023 Summit was a phenomenal success with more than 1,200 total attendees! The 6th Annual Summit debuted a new feature: resource booths. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies were able to share resources and information with Summit attendees outside of sessions. This year we also brought back breakout sessions, where attendees could dive deeper into topics and have questions answered by experts. Thanks very much to all who joined us in person or online and to the many contributors who made it possible. We hope to see you for our 7th Annual Summit in 2024! 

To request continuing education credit for the 2023 Judicial Summit on Mental Health, please complete the Session Recordings Continuing Education Credits Form after viewing the session recordings. You will be emailed a certificate of attendance for the requested sessions. 

Every County Counts!

Whole Body, Whole Mind, Whole Texas

The Whole Body, Whole Mind, Whole Texas Challenge returned for a second year at the Summit. We encouraged every county in Texas to have at least one representative from their county attend the 2023 Summit. We had registrants from 146 out of Texas's 254 counties, plus registrants from 14 states and two countries. 

Welcome From the High Courts:

Hon. Jane Bland, Justice, The Supreme Court of Texas, JCMH Chair

Hon. Barbara Hervey, Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, JCMH Chair

Kristi Taylor, J.D., Executive Director, Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health

Approximately 50% of individuals with mental illness struggle with anosognosia, the inability to recognize their mental health condition. This leads to resistance towards crucial treatment and medication. As a leading expert in the field, Dr. Amador will illuminate the complexities of this lack of insight, often misconstrued as "denial." Join us as he guides attendees through pathways to establish trust, mend relationships, and forge effective partnerships with individuals facing mental health challenges who are resistant to seeking help.

Presented by:

Xavier Amador, Ph.D. M.A., President, The LEAP Institute

For years, Matthew Rutan’s parents tried to get their son help for his mental illness, but Matthew didn’t think he needed treatment. After his parents implemented the concepts taught by Dr. Amador, Matthew began to engage in treatment. Matthew will discuss his experience with Dr. Amador’s LEAP method and how his life has changed since that time.

Presented by:

Matthew Rutan, Lived Experience Expert

Since 2018, Judge Sawyer has been at the forefront of innovation by utilizing a program she developed: Resource-Based Sentencing & Supervision. In 2022, she furthered her impact by founding a nonprofit organization called The Sentencing Foundation designed to provide the logistical support necessary to make the program repeatable in every criminal courtroom in this country. Judge Sawyer will explain useful tools to apply a trauma-informed and resource-based framework to decision-making in a judicial setting.

Presented by:

Hon. Stephanie M. Sawyer, Judge, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Founder and Board Chair, The Sentencing Foundation

Remy DeMarco, R.N., M.P.A., Executive Director, The Accountability Project

The 88th Legislative Session brought forth new developments in mental health and IDD laws. Join our dynamic duo as they guide you through the intricacies of these changes. Gain comprehensive insights into the latest legal updates, equipping you to navigate the evolving landscape of mental health law with confidence and expertise.

Presented by:

Hon. David Newell, Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

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

Emergency Detentions involving individuals with mental health conditions and IDD are a critical concern within the justice system. Balancing the rights and well-being of individuals in crisis while ensuring public safety poses a complex dilemma. This session will delve into multifaceted issues such as timely assessments, appropriate treatment, legal frameworks, and community integration to address the pressing need for innovative strategies to navigate the challenges surrounding emergency detentions.

Presented by:

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

This two-part presentation will provide you with an overview of three Texas counties at different stages of creating diversion centers. The discussions will focus on structures, creation, operations, goals, and outcomes used by each center. Additionally, presenters will discuss factors in planning a diversion program and lessons learned after years of operation.

Presented by:

Dallas County
Lee Pierson, J.D., Chief of the Mental Health Division, Dallas County DA’s Office

Douglas Denton, M.A., L.C.D.C., Executive Director, Homeward Bound, Inc.

Harris County
Denise Oncken, J.D., MBA, Executive Bureau Chief, Harris County DA’s Office

Wayne Young, M.B.A., L.P.C., F.A.C.H.E., Chief Executive Officer, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD

Mike Lee, M.A., Chief Deputy, Harris County Sheriff’s Office

Lubbock County
Beth Lawson, C.E.O., StarCare Specialty Health System

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

Marle Antu, M.A., L.P.C., L.C.D.C., Chief of Behavioral Health Operations, StarCare Specialty Health System

Imagine witnessing your teenager struggle with concentration, academic performance, and social withdrawal, but the earliest mental
health appointment is months away. This presentation explores three personal journeys of mental health care-seeking: a child of concerned parents, an adult in pursuit of treatment, and an individual entangled in
the legal system. By sharing these powerful narratives, attendees will gain invaluable insights into the profound impact of timely peer support. The presenters will demonstrate how early intervention through peer connections can reshape these experiences.

Presented by: 

Parker LaCombe, Director of Peer Support, Austin State Hospital

Alison Engbretson, Executive Manager, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Dell Medical School, University of Texas at Austin

In the 87th Regular Session (2021), H.B. 2831 mandated the establishment of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Advisory Committee (IDDAC) by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS). This committee is tasked with providing guidance on matters concerning individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) in county jail settings. Join us as we delve into a vital discussion on fostering a more inclusive and informed approach to handling IDD within the justice system. Discuss best practices that will not only uphold the rights and well-being of individuals with IDD but also enhance the efficacy of law enforcement and jail procedures.

Presented by:

Jenny Goode, M.S., C.E.O., Betty Hardwick Center

Learn about Dr. Amador’s LEAP (Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner) Method, which provides tools to persuade someone who doesn't recognize their mental illness to accept treatment and services. It is for anyone seeking to break through an impasse with someone who is convinced they are right, and you are wrong.

Presented by:

Xavier Amador, Ph.D. M.A., President, The LEAP Institute

Join us as we explore the intricate landscape of competency restoration, where tough questions demand astute answers. This session will equip you with insights on pivotal matters such as the judicious use of court-ordered medications, effective approaches for defendants deemed unrestorable, and streamlined methods to expedite competency restoration services within your county.

Moderated by:

Jennie Simpson, Ph.D., Associate Commissioner & State Forensic Director, Office of Forensic Coordination, Texas HHSC

Matthew Lovitt, M.S.W., Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Forensic Coordination, Texas HHSC


Hon. Nelda Cacciotti, J.D., Acting Chief, Mental Health Crossover Unit, Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office

Shana D. Donati Dallas, M.A., L.P.C., L.M.H.C., Competency Restoration Program Manager, StarCare Specialty Health System

Hon. Elizabeth Byer Leonard, Judge, 238th District Court

Thomas “Jay” Wooten, J.D., Chief Public Defender, Galveston County Misdemeanor Mental Health Public Defender’s Office

Are you interested in building systemic change in your county but don’t know where to start? This interactive presentation will introduce actionable steps for Texas counties looking to make positive change. The instructors will lead discussions on creating a Mental Health Law Collaborative Workgroup, participating in mapping according to the Sequential Intercept Model, developing action plans, and following through to keep momentum going. Finally, the JCMH will lay out how to use the Texas Mental Health Law Plan Checklists to clarify legal roles and create a more efficient, cost-saving, and even life-saving mental health law plan.

Presented by:

Molly Davis, J.D., Staff Attorney, Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health

Doug Smith, M.S.S.W., A.C.C., Managing Partner, D-Degree Coaching & Training

Kristi Taylor, J.D., Executive Director, Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health

Emergency Detentions & OPCs

  • Prof. Brian D. Shannon, J.D., Horn Distinguished Professor, Texas Tech University School of Law
  • Beth Mitchell, J.D., Litigation Coordinator, Disability Rights Texas
  • Hon. David W. Jahn, Judge, Denton County Probate Court No. 1

Early Interventions (CCP 16.22, 17.032)

  • Lee Pierson, J.D., Chief of the Mental Health Division, Dallas County District Attorney’s Office
  • Gilbert Gonzalez, L.P.C., L.C.D.C., Director, Bexar County Department of Behavioral Health
  • Elizabeth Groves, Mental Health Diversion Coordinator, Grayson County

Data Collection, Storage, & Sharing

  • Hon. Renee Rodriguez-Betancourt, Judge, 449th District Court
  • Connie Almeida, Ph.D., Director, Behavioral Health Services Department, Fort Bend County
  • Brittany Whittington, L.M.S.W., Director of Accountable Care Systems, Integral Care

Long-term Solutions for High Utilizers

  • Sonja Burns, Mental Health Advocate
  • Steve Glazier, M.B.A., F.A.C.H.E., Vice President, Business Development and Government Relations, UTHealth Houston Dunn Behavioral Sciences Center
  • Adrienne Kennedy, M.A., Past President, National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Jeffery Matthews, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Health and Specialty Care System | State Hospitals, Texas Health and Human Services Commission

Competency Restoration (CCP 46B)

  • Jennie Simpson, Ph.D., Associate Commissioner & State Forensic Director, Office of Forensic Coordination, Texas HHSC
  • Chris Lopez, J.D., Assistant General Counsel, Texas HHSC
  • Alyse Ferguson, J.D., Of Counsel, Rosenthal Kalabus & Therrian

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Courts/Dockets

  • Staci Biggar, J.D., Attorney, Biggar Law Firm
  • Hon. Mark Ellis, Judge (Fmr.), 351st District Court
  • Anne McGonigle, M.S.W., Deputy Associate Commissioner of IDD Services, Chief Program and Services Office, Texas HHSC Commission

Mental Health Courts

  • Hon. Brent Carr, Jurist-in-Residence, JCMH
  • Hon. Yolanda Huff, Judge, Bexar County Court 12, and Mental Health Court
  • Hon. Elizabeth Byer Leonard, Judge, 238th District Court

Securing Grant Funding for your Program

  • Anita Carpenter, M.A., Consultant, Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center
  • Kristen DeVall, Ph.D., Co-Director, National Treatment Court Resource Center
  • Christina Lanier, Ph.D., Co-Director, National Treatment Court Resource Center
  • Alyssa Smith, M.A., Justice Programs Administrator, Texas Office of the Governor

Interactive VIRTUAL Sessions

  • Lynda Frost, J.D., Ph.D., Principal Consultant, Lynfro Consulting
  • Ann Blocker, M.B.A., Principal Consultant, Coddi Advisors

Judge Gore facilitates a specialized juvenile municipal court docket addressing mental health and substance use issues. This presentation helps Judges and practitioners to “think outside the box” to address common issues that arise in the juvenile justice system and to engage youth, parents, and other stakeholders while providing support and
local resources.

Judge Gore will give tips on community service credit toward fees and implementing programs with minimal or no budget, and how these can be implemented individually or together by a court at any level of the criminal justice system. As an added benefit, these tools are widely applicable outside the juvenile context. Concepts utilized include: Trauma-Based Care, family- and person-based practices, people-first language, and incentives and sanctions.

Presented by:

Hon. Cyndi Porter Gore, Judge, Allen Municipal Court

When youth become involved with the juvenile justice system, they encounter unique hurdles to accessing education services from reentry into the public school system through graduation. Education advocacy is a best practice for serving justice-involved youth that can help improve educational outcomes and reduce recidivism. This presentation provides an overview of the Education Advocacy Program operated by Disability Rights Texas in partnership with the Harris County Juvenile Probation Department. This presentation will provide information about the rights of justice-involved youth to be served by public schools and practical steps for a proactive approach to addressing school-related barriers to success.

Presented by: 

Sarah Beebe, J.D., M.S.W., Supervising Attorney, Disability Rights of Texas

In 2015, the 84th Texas Legislature mandated the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD) to collaborate with local juvenile probation departments in adopting a regionalization plan, prioritizing proximity to home over commitment. The Regionalization Department utilizes seven chiefs’ association regions to streamline services, support, and resources for youth near their homes and families. This presentation aims to enhance understanding of this process and highlight its positive impact on justice-involved youth.

Presented by:

Susan Palacios, Ph.D., L.P.C., Community Mental Health Program Administrator, Texas Juvenile Justice Department

Ashley Kintzer, M.S.C.J., Director of Probation, Texas Juvenile Justice Department

This dynamic session is tailored to equip mental health advocates, legal professionals, and community leaders with the essential skills and knowledge to secure funding for initiatives at the intersection of mental health and the justice system. Participants will leave this workshop armed with a deeper understanding of the grant procurement process, from identifying state and federal funding opportunities to crafting persuasive proposals. With the expertise and insights provided by our esteemed speakers, attendees will be better equipped to advocate for mental health initiatives that make a lasting impact within the justice system and broader community.

Presented by:

Anita Carpenter, M.A., Consultant, Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center

Kristen Devall, Ph.D., Co-Director, National Treatment Court Resource Center

Christina Lanier, Ph.D., Co-Director, National Treatment Court Resource Center

Alyssa Smith, Justice Programs Administrator, Texas Office of the Governor

In the mid-1970s and early 1980s, lawyers, particularly those who had found recovery after struggling with their own substance use disorders, saw the impact of alcohol and substance use in the legal community and wanted to help their colleagues. Thus was the beginning of the first lawyer assistance program.. The goal of TLAP is to help and find support services for lawyers, law students, and judges whose ability to perform professionally or academically is impaired by substance use, mental health disorders, or cognitive impairment, and to provide education to the legal profession regarding these issues. This presentation looks at resources to treat the anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders that so often create difficulties for lawyers, their clients, and the court.

Presented by:

Michelle Fontenot, J.D., L.P.C., Director, Texas Lawyer Assistance Program, State Bar of Texas

Even seasoned practitioners can find themselves navigating uncharted territory when representing clients with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (IDD). Advocating for this community involves collaboration with various agencies and benefits programs, dispelling outdated stereotypes, and prioritizing the wishes and desires of the client. In this session, we will help equip you with tools to advocate effectively for individuals with IDD, ensuring their voices are heard and their rights upheld.

Presented by: 

Meredith Shytles Parekh, J.D., Attorney, Foster Care, Disability Rights of Texas

Presented by:

Hon. Brent Carr, Jurist-in-Residence, JCMH