About Us

The Mental Health Alliance was formed in 2018 to join the continuing Federal lawsuit, United States v. City of Portland as an amicus curie – or “friend of the court”.

Five organizations which represent the interests of people with mental illness and have long participated in efforts to reduce police use of force used against people with mental illness – Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, Disability Rights Oregon, the Oregon Justice Resource Center, the Portland Interfaith Clergy, and the Mental Health Association of Portland, joined together to form the Alliance.

In 2020, the Mental Health Alliance was opened to individual members.

About United States v. City of Portland

In 2014 the US Department of Justice issued a finding statement saying the Portland Police Bureau had a “pattern and practice” of using too much force with people with mental illness. In response to United States v. City of Portland, the defendant city offered a lengthy settlement agreement to the DOJ. Judge Michael Simon convened a hearing to ask about the fairness of the settlement. Is it reasonable? Is it adequate? Is it fair? Finding the agreement reasonable, adequate and fair, he continues to hold regular semi-annual status hearings where the parties, amicus curie, and the public can speak to whether the settlement remains reasonable, adequate and fair.

Meaning of amicus curie

Amicus curie is a latin term used in American and English law to identify an impartial adviser, often both voluntary and selected by the judge, to a court of law in a particular case.

Members of the Mental Health Alliance

The goal of Oregon Justice Resource Center is to promote civil rights and improve legal representation for communities that have often been underserved in the past: people living in poverty and people of color among them. They work in collaboration with other, like-minded, organizations to maximize our reach to serve underrepresented populations, to train future public interest lawyers, and to educate our community on issues related to civil rights and civil liberties.

Disability Rights Oregon is a nonprofit that works to transform systems, policies, and practices to give more people the opportunity to reach their full potential. DRO serves as Oregon’s federally-mandated Protection & Advocacy service, and their attorneys have represented people with mental illness as individuals in court, in class action suits, and in investigative advocacy.

Mental Health Association of Portland provides impartial and independent advocacy for persons with mental illness and addiction. This peer-driven organization maintains advisory councils and committees for individual educational and service projects.

The Portland Interfaith Clergy Resistance is a group of clergy representing communities of faith throughout the City of Portland.

Individual members of the Mental Health Alliance include

Amanda Marshall JD is a healthcare attorney in McMinnville
Rochelle Silver, RN spent her career treating patients at the Oregon State Hospital
Benjamin Haile, JD is an attorney in Portland
Mike Savara, LCSW, CADC III is a clinician in Portland

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare was a member of the MHA 2017-2019.

Representation

The Mental Health Alliance is represented in courts by Juan C. Chavez of the Oregon Justice Resource Center. You can contact Mr. Chavez at jchavez @ ojrc.info

Other amicus curie for United States v. City of Portland

One other organization joined United States v. City of Portland as an “enhanced” amicus curie in 2015. They are the Albinia Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Peace and Justice Reform. The Portland Police Association also joined in 2015 as a defendant-intervenor.