Sol Wachtler to Speak on 'Rage to Punish' Mentally Disturbed
Contact: Vincent Reda, 518-437-4985
Sol Wachtler, the former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
whose influential career as a jurist was cut down by his arrest and
1993 conviction of harassment, will speak on his involvement in the
criminal justice system from judge to criminal defendant and prisoner
on Wednesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in the Hall of Fame Room of the Recreation
and Convocation Center Page Hall on the University at Albany's Uptown
Wachtler's talk, "Rage to Punish: Psychiatry and the Law," will deal
with mental health and the criminal justice system and "about what happens
to people who are disturbed instead of evil," according to James Acker,
interim dean of the UAlbany School of Criminal Justice. The School is
sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public.
Acker finds Wachtler's address pertinent to much of the ongoing research
at the School of Criminal Justice, which has consistently been rated
in the top three such schools in the nation since its inception in 1969.
"The School has long been involved in research and legal policy issues
relevant to the intersection of the mental health and corrections systems."
Acker pointed to Professor Fred Cohen's pioneering 1980 casebook, The
Law of Deprivation of Liberty.
"Other faculty at the School have completed research investigating
the tenuous relationship between mental illness and crime, and issues
involving the treatment and confinement of mental disturbed offenders,"
said Acker. "Also pertinent to Sol Wachtler's appearance is the School's
law-related coursework focusing on the jurisprudence of appellate courts,
including New York's Court of Appeals."
Wachtler was appointed to the State Supreme Court by Gov. Nelson Rockefeller
in 1968 and in 1972 ran for and was elected to New York's highest court,
the Court of Appeals. He was appointed as the court's Chief Judge in
1985 by Gov. Mario Cuomo.
On the Court of Appeals, Wachtler was responsible for a series of rights-expanding
rulings involving the handicapped, minorities and women. His decisions
opened the closed doors of exclusive men's clubs, strengthened determinations
of the state Division of Human Rights and helped broaden the definition
of a handicap.
As an administrator, Wachtler had equal influence: actively working
to improve the lot of women and minorities in the criminal and civil
justice systems, lobbying for a more diversified Court of Appeals, and
appointing blue-ribbon commissions to identify, and help rectify, both
flagrant and insidious bias. The writer of more than 800 significant
court opinions and more than 200 published articles, he was the recipient
of honors from many legal and civil rights groups.
Wachtler's judicial career came to an end with his 1992 arrest by the
FBI for conducting a campaign of harassment against his former mistress,
the socialite Joy Silverman. In 1993, he was convicted of harassment.
Wachtler's 1997 book, After the Madness, was a diary of his 11-month
imprisonment (which followed a year of home confinement). It focused
on his penitentiary pals, jailhouse experiences, and reflections concerning
the law, crime, punishment, and rehabilitation.
For more University at Albany information, visit our World Wide Web
site at http://www.Albany.edu.
April 11, 2001
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