Letters to the Editor

Letters: The prison of mental illness

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Decades ago, we turned the seriously mentally ill out onto the streets, so as to “protect” their rights. Eventually, we closed down most of the psych beds. “Breakdown,” January/February, illustrates why we are desperate to find a place to put the seriously mentally ill.

For their own safety as well as the safety of others, they cannot be wandering the streets. To make matters worse, the system has adjusted to the new circumstances, and now there is probably no way that we can build up our bed capacity. We must recall that the severely mentally ill are not always the most cooperative folks.

Jurisdictions such as New Hampshire must be allowed to do the best they can under the circumstances. The state’s solution is better than no solution at all, which has been the modern-day practice. Just listen to the howl from the civil rights advocates when a severely mentally ill person wandering the streets becomes physically threatening and ends up being shot by police who are left with no other way to protect themselves and others.

Of course, all concerned must recognize that solutions better than “jail care” exist, but we must be realistic about their implementation. Before the advocates in all their zeal head to court, they should recall that the real solution lies in the legislature and at the governor’s mansion, not the local or federal courthouse. Somehow even the liberal mind has to understand that one has to live in the nest that he or she has built—at least until it is reasonably possible to remodel the nest.

William R. Clarke
Richland, Washington


In reference to the clarification regarding “A Tale of Two Silver Markets—and Two Disasters,”  January/February, by Allen Pusey, I was pleased to see a retraction of the false statements in the original version of the article asserting Lamar Hunt had participated in an effort to manipulate the soybean futures market. Unfortunately, the ABA Journal’s attempt to clarify the article leaves the implication that Lamar Hunt was an active participant in the efforts of Nelson Bunker Hunt and William Herbert Hunt to manipulate the silver futures market. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike his brothers, Lamar Hunt did not use his inheritance to “accumulate substantial amounts of silver … futures contracts.” Lamar Hunt made an investment in silver futures in 1979. However, in the context of his net worth—the vast bulk of which was not derived from an “inheritance”—this investment could hardly be characterized as “substantial.” More importantly, Lamar Hunt’s silver futures investment did not involve any of the high-leverage borrowing, deliveries or any other activities the article states his brothers used to inflate the value of their holdings. Unlike his brothers, Lamar Hunt was never “on the way to bankruptcy” at any time.

Unlike his brothers, Lamar Hunt was never charged with any wrongdoing by the Commodities Future Trading Commission Enforcement Division in connection with his silver investments. Lamar Hunt was named as a defendant in a civil suit filed by the Peruvian silver cartel Minpeco, and a jury did find him and his brothers liable for damages in that case. I know this part of the story because my partner Jim Seigfreid and I played roles in the post-trial proceedings in that case. We were all pleased when U.S. District Judge Morris Lasker entered his order vacating the jury’s verdict against Lamar Hunt.

Paul G. Schepers
Kansas City, Missouri


I was disgusted to learn of the unprofessional enlargement of litigation financing corporations featured in “Other People’s Money,” December. Once upon a time, there was a legal doctrine called champerty and maintenance. Bargaining to aid in carrying on prosecution or defense of a suit in consideration of a share of the result was a violation of rules of professional conduct. Not now. Your article exposes the unlawful nature of lawyers intermeddling in lawsuits for financial gain without sanction from state bar associations or criminal prosecutors—or judges. It’s yet another degradation of my profession.

Judge Quentin L. Kopp (Ret.)
San Francisco

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