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Court Administration
Medical Services Division

I. Overview:

Since 1925 the Medical Services Division has been providing psychiatric, psychological, and social work evaluations for the court system in Baltimore.  Medical Services Division staff members have also provided leadership in the development of key local and statewide forensic psychiatric programs and services. Today we continue to work closely with other city, state, and private agencies in developing and improving programs and services to persons with mental illness who have court involvement.  All programs and services are initiated or approved by the judiciary.

Most recently the Division has participated in targeted jail diversion efforts primarily at the District Court level as well as programs developed by the Circuit Court's Family and Juvenile Divisions that provide special services to children and families.

Location:
The Medical Services Division is located in Courthouse East, a central location providing easy access for court personnel, transportation personnel, as well as for children, youth, and adults in the community who are referred for evaluation or other services.

Referrals:
Judges and Masters of the Eighth Judicial Circuit's Family, Criminal, and Juvenile Divisions provide most evaluation referrals.  In specific instances, the Division's special programs can receive referrals from District Courts, from other agencies, or consumers themselves.

Staffing:
Medical Services staff and consultants who perform evaluations are forensically trained and have qualified as experts.  Division psychiatrists and psychologists average more than fifteen years of experience.  Staff social workers are licensed at the highest clinical level and have extensive experience working with forensic populations.

Goals:
The principal goal of the Division is to provide timely, high quality,  unbiased court ordered evaluations and reports.  Due to constitutional speedy trial requirements and the tremendous volume of cases coming through the Circuit Courts, Division staff members make great efforts to expedite their work.  Due dates are important and postponements are infrequent.  Urgent requests and emergency evaluations are handled as soon as possible.

Special Programs:
Since the 1970's, Medical Services Division staff members have helped develop special programs and services that reflect the Court's commitment to therapeutic jurisprudence as well as the Court's interest in efficiency and productivity.  Many of these services are funded through state or private grants or intergovernmental agreements.

Statistics:
In FY 2008 the Medical Services Division's staff provided evaluations and/or services for more than 3400 individuals.  These ranged from extensive evaluations in complex criminal responsibility, child custody, or child abuse cases to brief screening evaluations for competency to stand trial or eligibility for participation in a jail diversion program.

Training:
The Division's operation is enhanced by long-standing and widely respected training programs with the University of Maryland, Morgan State University, Johns Hopkins University, Howard University and others.  These programs include:

  • a one year forensic psychiatric fellowship for psychiatrists wishing to pursue careers in forensic psychiatry
  • rotations for child and adolescent psychiatry fellows
  • rotations for psychiatry residents
  • internships for post-doctoral students in psychology
  • electives for graduate students in psychology
  • year-long internships for graduate social work students
  • electives for law students and medical students

Under the supervision of Medical Services staff and special consultants, these students participate in hundreds of evaluations and contribute fresh perspectives.|

Continuing Improvement:
The Division is committed to continuing improvement in its evaluation services and special programs.  We welcome discussion with court personnel and others who may have suggestions for improvement.

Contact:
Lawrence Heller, M.D.
Chief Medical Officer
111 N. Calvert St.
Room 100
Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 396-5013