Supreme Court Seal
Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Department

S.C. Courts Mental Health Initiative

Judicial Branch Introduces S.C. Courts Mental Health Initiative


Virtual Learning Sessions Series
Convened by South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty

Session 1 - Thursday, October 13, 2022
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Watch Replay of Webinar

Mental Health Diversions from the Justice System through Leadership, Collaboration, Building Momentum, and Moving Forward with Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

Judge Steven Leifman

Judge Steven Leifman will provide an inspiring address about what judicial leadership can accomplish to improve the community and court response to those with mental illness. Miami-Dade County with a population of 2.8 million is the seventh largest county in the nation and is a leader in addressing the complex community challenges involving law enforcement, behavioral health and the justice system, and in devising evidence-based, cost effective solutions for those with mental illness. Judge Leifman will also address lessons learned from the pandemic and what innovative practices should remain.


About Judge Steven Leifman

Judge Leifman is the Associate Administrative Judge of the Miami-Dade County Court – Criminal Division. Judge Leifman previously served as Special Advisor on Criminal Justice and Mental Health for the Supreme Court of Florida and currently chairs the Courts Steering Committee on Problem Solving Courts. Due to his expertise in the areas of criminal justice and mental health, Judge Leifman has been appointed to serve in a variety of capacities on local, state, and national bodies, including Co-Chair of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Mental Health Committee, the Florida Statewide Task Force on Opioid Abuse, the Florida Drug Policy Advisory Committee and The National Institute on Drug Addiction’s (NIDA) Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network. Judge Leifman is also a lifetime member of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP) and serves as Co-Chair of the Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative (JPLI).

Judge Leifman is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and a Voluntary Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He also serves on the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts' Response to Mental Illness and the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) established by the 21st Century Cures Act.

In 2015, Judge Leifman received the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence at the Supreme Court of the United States and the Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence. In 2016, he was named a Governing Magazine Public Official of the Year. In 2018, Judge Leifman was awarded the Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health. Judge Leifman is the subject of the Documentary, The Definition of Insanity which aired on PBS in 2020 -


Session 2 - Thursday, October 20, 2022
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
View Replay of Webinar

The Future of Crisis Care

Paul Galdys

Most communities defer to law enforcement and hospitals for people in psychiatric emergency. Paul Galdys will discuss Intercepts 0 and 1 of the Sequential Intercept Model, community crisis services and law enforcement with the emphasis on discussing what should be available in the community for crisis services to ensure a “no wrong door” system and how best to deflect a person in mental health crisis to care by partnering with and minimizing law enforcement in the mental health crisis care continuum.


About Paul Galdys

Paul Galdys, MBA, CPRP, joined RI International as Deputy CEO in June 2017. Prior to joining RI, Galdys served as an Assistant Director at AHCCCS (Arizona’s Medicaid agency) in support of $12 billion in health care service delivery annually. Additionally, Paul was the lead writer of the National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care published by SAMHSA in February 2020.


Session 3 - Thursday, October 27, 2022
12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
View Replay of Webinar

Systems, Struggles, and Strategies: Opportunities at the Justice and Behavioral Health Interface

Debra A. Pinals

Dr. Debra A. Pinals will share information as it relates to mental illness and how we can improve systems for those we serve. She will focus her discussion on Sequential Intercept Model Intercepts 2-5 which address the criminal justice system from initial court hearing and initial detention, through jail and court, reentry, and community corrections, and finally entry to the community. She will share information on mental health diversion at each intercept to get people with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and into community treatment.


About Dr. Debra A. Pinals

Dr. Debra A. Pinals is the Director of the Program in Psychiatry, Law, and Ethics and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. She is the Medical Director of Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Pinals is board certified in psychiatry and forensic psychiatry, and is a diplomate of the American Board of Addiction Medicine. From 2008 to 2016, she was the assistant commissioner of forensic services, and between 2012 and 2014, she was the interim state medical director for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. During her career she has been a clinical psychiatrist in community mental health, inpatient settings, forensic and correctional facilities, emergency rooms, and court clinics. She has taught medical professionals, attorneys, judges, state administrators, law enforcement, and legislators. She spearheaded the development of police-mental health partnerships and training, and helped facilitate protocol development and clinical services for treatment courts. She spent nearly a decade in her work overseeing reentry services for inmates with serious mental illness leaving jails and prisons, conducting suicide mortality reviews, and monitoring mental health, dental, and medical care for inmates in segregation units in Massachusetts prisons. She has led and participated in several justice and behavioral health federal grants, and is co-developer of MISSION-Criminal Justice, a model of wrap-around services that provide support and aim to reduce recidivism for justice-involved individuals with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders and trauma histories. She has participated as an expert witness in a variety of criminal and civil forensic evaluations. Dr. Pinals also has overseen certification for evaluators and the provision of court-ordered forensic evaluations across Massachusetts.

Dr. Pinals is a past president of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, and current chair of the American Psychiatric Association Council on Psychiatry and the Law. In those roles she has participated in the writing of numerous amicus briefs for appellate cases in which the legal regulation of psychiatric practice or mental health and the law are critical issues. She is a past chair of the forensic division of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors and the current secretary of the Medical Directors Division. She has received numerous awards including those related to specialty court services and juvenile justice. She received the 2016 Massachusetts Manuel Carballo Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Service as part of a team responsible for the design and development of the state-run intensive Women's Recovery from Addictions Program. She has consulted for the Federal Aviation Administration, and serves as a senior consultant to Policy Research Associates Inc. and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration GAINS Center. She has published widely on the intersection of justice and behavioral health.



Resources: Courts and Mental Health

Findings and Recommendations of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts' Response to Mental Illness

Resolution in Support of the Recommendations of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts' Response to Mental Illness

National Center for State Courts (NCSC)

National Center for State Courts (NCSC) Behavioral Health Website
Note: To receive regular NCSC behavioral health alerts, click on “Subscribe to the semi-monthly Behavioral Health Alerts resource newsletter” at the link above.


NCSC Leading Change Resources

Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative
Judicial Bench Card on Practical Considerations Related to Release and Sentencing for Defendants Who Have Behavioral Health Needs

Other Resources


Judges’ Guide to Mental Illnesses in the Courtroom
From the Judges’ Criminal Justice/Mental Health Leadership Initiative of the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, Council of State Governments Justice Center, The National Judicial College, and Policy Research Associates

Essential Components of Trauma-Informed Judicial Practice
Report prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) by the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)


Save the Date

Virtual Learning Sessions
Thursday, Oct. 13
Thursday, Oct. 20
Thursday, Oct. 27
All sessions start at noon