Westchester County Department of Community Mental Health Deputy Commissioner Joseph A. Glazer, Esq. has been named a co-chair of a new New York State Bar Association Task Force focusing on the impact of the mental health crisis taking place across the state on the public and the civil and criminal justice systems.

Prior to becoming Deputy Commissioner four and a half years ago, Glazer spent more than two decades as an attorney in private practice and nonprofit and governmental roles working with individuals with behavioral health needs who are justice-involved.

The “Task Force on Mental Health and Trauma Impacted Representation” is comprised of more than two dozen attorneys from across the state, each of whom has relevant experience and leadership roles in civil and criminal law.

County Executive George Latimer said: “Having Deputy Commissioner Glazer serve in this important statewide role will benefit the people of our state and our county at the same time. Since the days of the initial Westchester County Transition Team report right up to the on-going roll-out of our Mobile Crisis Response Teams, we have worked every day to improve justice for people with serious mental health and substance needs.”

New NYS Bar Association President Sherry Levin Wallach said: “Despite a revitalized focus on the issues, the legal system is continuing to fail the majority of our clients living with mental illness and trauma. They must be treated with compassion, and not automatically criminalized, when and if they interact with the justice system. Mental illness and trauma must be destigmatized.”

President Levin Wallach is also the Deputy Executive Director of the Legal Aid Society of Westchester.

Glazer said: “For more than 25 years, my career has focused on assisting individuals living with serious mental health needs and co-occurring disorders. I am so appreciative of being offered this role and opportunity, sharing the work I have done and collaborating with many other attorneys who commit themselves to this same work and effort, as we seek to improve our state’s laws and practices for the future.”

The Task Force will review treatment courts, civil proceedings and New York’s existing laws. Chaired by Sheila Shea, Esq., the Director of Mental Hygiene Legal Services in the Third Judicial Department, the Task Force will compile and release a report by April 2023.