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”.

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 – 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. Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare was an initial member of the Alliance.

In 2020, the Mental Health Alliance was opened to individual members and is reviewing new projects.

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.

Organizational 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.

Members of the Mental Health Alliance Work Group include

Rochelle Silver PhD spent her career treating patients at the Oregon State Hospital
Patrick Nolen is an advocate for people who are homeless
Meredith Mathis is staff at Metropolitan Public Defender
Amanda J. Marshall JD is a family attorney in Clackamas County
Jan Friedman JD is a staff attorney at Disability Rights Oregon
Jason Renaud is a member of the board of the Mental Health Association of Portland
Mark Schorr LPC, CADCI is a counselor and therapist
Michael Hopcroft is a member of the board of the Mental Health Association of Portland
Sandra Chisholm MPA is President of the Mental Health Association of Portland
Mary-Margaret Wheeler-Weber works for Multnomah County
Maggie Powers is a third year law student and intern at Disability Rights Oregon
Mark Chasse, JD is an attorney and advocate.

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

Representation

The Mental Health Alliance is represented in courts by Juan C. Chavez and Franz Bruggemeier 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 Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Peace and Justice Reform. The Portland Police Association also joined in 2015 as a defendant-intervenor.