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About Michael L. Perlin

Michael is Professor of Law Emeritus at New York Law School (NYLS), founding director of NYLS's Online Mental Disability Law Program, and founding director of NYLS's International Mental Disability Law Reform Project in its Justice Action Center.  He has written 31 books and nearly 300 articles on all aspects of mental disability law, many of which deal with the overlap between mental disability law and criminal law and procedure. Michael has represented thousands of persons with mental disabilities in individual and class actions, and has represented criminal defendants at every level from police court to the US Supreme Court (second-seating Strickland v. Washington, and representing amicus in Ake v. Oklahoma, and Colorado v. Connelly). He directed the online mental disability law program at New York Law School from 2000 to 2014, and through that program, offered 13 courses to lawyers, mental health professionals, and disability advocates. Through this program, he has also taught mental disability law courses in Japan, Nicaragua, Finland, Israel, Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and Sweden. He has done extensive work in China with the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law—Asia office where he has conducted “Training of Trainers” workshops in Xi’an, China to teach experienced death penalty defense lawyers how to train inexperienced lawyers, employing the online distance learning methodologies used in the NYLS online program. He has also done advocacy work on behalf of persons with disabilities on every continent. 

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About Heather Ellis Cucolo 

Heather has been teaching at New York Law School since 2007 and is currently a distinguished adjunct professor of law. She has also served as the acting facilitator of the joint J.D./M.A. program with John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the acting director of the Online Mental Disability Law Program. She has taught a variety of courses at NYLS in the areas of criminal law and mental disability law.

Professor Cucolo also co-designed a course for Emory University School of Law, Legal and Ethical Controversies in Health Care and is an adjunct professor in their law school's online program. She is appointed as fellowship faculty at Albert Einstein College of Medicine where she lectures doctoral students on legal research and legal practice for expert clinicians.

Outside of teaching, Heather serves on the Board of Trustees of the International Society of Therapeutic Jurisprudence and on the Board of Directors for Collier Youth Services. Formerly, in her full-time legal practice, she dedicated her career to representing individuals at trial facing civil commitment under both the New Jersey Mental Hygiene Law and New Jersey’s Sexually Violent Predators Act. She authored and argued appeals before the New Jersey Appellate Division with over 27 reported decisions.

Professor Cucolo has been recognized as a top expert in sexual violent predator law and has counseled attorneys, judges, and clinicians on law and procedure in civil commitment proceedings and issues involving persons suffering from a mental disability or illness within the criminal justice system. She has been quoted in numerous media sources on sex offender legislation and on the use of excessive force in policing. Professor Cucolo has presented her work—at domestic and international academic conferences—in the areas of professional ethics, mental disability law, criminal law, and sex offender law. She has published four textbooks and over 18 law review articles with mentions in an Eastern District of New York court decision and an Iowa appellate decision. She was honored to receive the Otto L. Walter Distinguished Writing Award for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.

Professor Cucolo’s international work has included: expert testimony on extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States for persons convicted of a sex offense; pro bono advocacy for LawAid International; speaking at the United Nations on the rights of persons with disabilities in the Asia-Pacific region; and the creation of an instructional course on disability legislation for attorneys in Japan.

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