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Book reviews

18 May 15

Reviews of Mental Health and Scots Law in Practice; Winning Marriage

by David J Dickson (review editor), Tom Johnston

Mental Health and Scots Law in Practice

2nd edition

Professor Lindsay Thomson and Joanna Cherry QC

PUBLISHER: W GREEN

ISBN: 978-0414017634

PRICE: £85

This book provides a wide and deep consideration of an area of law and medical practice which is at times a poor junction of the disciplines. The book is expertly edited bringing together a host of experts in the respective disciplines within the field within which the contributing authors write. The areas addressed range from fundamental aspects to a real depth of knowledge on the various civil and criminal legal and psychiatric aspects available to the courts and practitioners in dealing with issues related to those diagnosed with a metal illness.

The solicitors and President of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland provide a superb overview of the work and scope of the tribunal and its powers, but are refreshingly candid on how the best interests of the person who is subject to those proceedings are met and how delay and obfuscation should be avoided.

Dr John Crichton and Kenneth Campbell QC are significant contributors, with the latter writing extensively on the legal aspects of mental health within the civil sphere of practice, whether on the civil remedies available such as detention, compulsory treatment and the scope, extension and removal and variation of those powers (and the very practical powers available to various medical staff), to the care of those of who fall within the adults with incapacity legislation.

The book is equally at home (and equally well discussed) when the criminal law comes into effect, to deal with those who commit crime due to mental illness or are made subject to a court disposal which engages mental health provisions of care and treatment. Again the contributing authors address the very real and practical aspects, such as pre-trial examination to determine whether mental health is an issue, to provision of psychiatric services within prison, services available to particular groups of individuals such as children and young people, through to risk management. There is a particularly extensive chapter on the various orders the criminal court may make as a disposal, with each considered in a systemic way, addressing issues such as the evidence required, what happens to the person subject to the particular order, and crucially the step in process where such orders may be considered and made.

The book shines in the clarity of the writing and the sheer depth of practical knowledge. There are numerous helpful tables setting out legislative provisions, as well as flow charts of procedure. Baroness Hale described detention under mental health legislation as “A gilded cage is still a cage.” This book immensely assists practitioners to understand the circumstances in which persons may require to be placed in such a cage, the clinical necessity and the expected treatment available, and the extent of and restrictions on the powers available to those charged in a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary approach with the care, treatment and rehabilitation of those affected by mental health illness.

David J Dickson, solicitor advocate

Winning Marriage

The Inside Story of How Same-Sex Couples Took on the Politicians and
Pundits – and Won

Marc Solomon

PUBLISHER: FORE EDGE

ISBN: 978-1611684018

PRICE: £20; e-book £16.99

To a non-US lawyer, what has always seemed extraordinary is the inordinate amount of time that a case can be tied up in the litigation sausage machine. The stories of people on death row for decades are horrific. Even the tales of class actions lasting for twice as long as we would expect in the UK are daunting. Leaving aside the (far more important) stresses on the litigating parties, one wonders at the sheer bloodyminded determination which lawyers must require to drive a single case on over that period of time. But at least those participants know that what goes into the sausage machine will, if you keep turning the handle, eventually come out the other end.

Marc Solomon had no such certainty when he began his involvement in the campaign to legalise gay marriage in the United States at the turn of the century. This book is the journal of an epic struggle which scored its first triumph in Massachusetts (“the decision heard round the world”) in 2003, and which has continued ever since. That bumpy road has seen 16 states rule that gay marriage is legal, but the journey has not been a straight line. After Massachusetts it was perhaps no great surprise that California was the next target. The bandwagon seemed to be rolling, but a wheel was shot off by “Proposition 8”, a resolution revoking the newly enjoyed freedom.

The fight continued for more than a decade. Sometimes it was won at state level, but the floodgates were blown open by a Supreme Court ruling in June 2014. On Martin Luther King Day 2013, Barack Obama stated that King’s journey would not be complete “until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to each other must be equal as well”.

Reading this is to be carried away in the struggle and to be swept along with the passion and determination of those involved. In the words of Solomon himself, “This is what a successful movement looks like. How proud to have been a part.”

Tom Johnston, Ormidale Licensing Services
 

 

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