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James Barry "Jim" Gottstein is a mostly retired Alaska based lawyer who practicedi business law and public land law, and is well known as an attorney advocate for people diagnosed with serious mental illness. Gottstein has sought to check the growth in the administration of psychotropics, particularly to children.
In 2002, Gottstein co-founded the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights), and currently serves as its president. He is also a member of the board of directors of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP).
Education and early career
Gottstein grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and graduated in 1971 from West Anchorage High School. In 1974, he earned his bachelor of science degree, with honors in finance, from the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon. Gottstein completed his legal studies in 1978, at Harvard Law School. After graduating from law school, Gottstein returned to Alaska, where he launched his legal career at the law firm of Robert M. Goldberg & Associates, which became Goldberg & Gottstein.
Gottstein practiced law independently from 1985, conducting business as the Law Offices of James B. Gottstein. Between 1986 and 1997, Gottstein represented Alaskans diagnosed with mental disorders in the Mental Health Trust Land Litigation, which resulted in a settlement valued at approximately $1 billion. State agencies in Alaska had misappropriated funds generated by a one million acre (4,000 km²) land trust, granted first for the necessary expenses of Alaska's mental health program.
From 1998 to 2004, he was a member of the Alaska Mental Health Board (AMHB), where he served as committee chair for the program evaluation and budget committees.
PsychRights and advocacy
The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, aka PsychRights, is a non-profit organization founded by Gottstein to mount a strategic litigation campaign against forced psychiatric drugging and electroshock. Its mission also includes exposing the truth about these drugs and the courts being misled into ordering people to be drugged and subjected to other brain and body damaging interventions against their will.
In furtherance of this mission PsychRights won five Alaska Supreme Court cases establishing that the state was violating people's rights and then lost one that undid much of the gains.
- Myers v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, ruling in 2006 that the state cannot constitutionally drug someone against their will unless it could prove it was in the person's best interest and there was no less intrusive alternative available.
- Wetherhorn v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, ruling in 2007 that the state cannot constitutionally confine someone for being mentally ill unless they cannot survive safely in freedom with the help of family and friends.
- Wayne B. v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, requiring in 2008 strict compliance with procedural protections before someone can be locked up and drugged against their will.
- Bigley v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, ruling in 2009 (a) that if a less intrusive alternative to forced drugging is feasible, the state must provide it or let the person go, (b) it was a denial of due process of law not to give the person's lawyer his medical records until the trial on locking him up and drugging him against his will, and (c) the petition to drug someone against their will must include must provide a plain, concise, and definite written statement of the facts underlying the petition, including the nature of and reasons for the proposed treatment, in order that the respondent may prepare to challenge the petition under the Myers factors. This should include information about the patient's symptoms and diagnosis; the medication to be used; the method of administration; the likely dosage; possible side effects, risks and expected benefits; and the risks and benefits of alter-native treatments and nontreatment.
- In Re: Heather R., voiding and reversing in 2016 an order for an involuntary psychiatric evaluation because the Court did not try to interview Heather R. before issuing the order without notice.
Much of this progress was lost in 2019, when the Alaska Supreme Court decided In the Matter of: Linda M., holding the state could avoid the constitutional prohibition against locking someone up for being diagnosed as mentally ill and dangerous if there is a less restrictive alternative available by causing Soteria-Alaska to close due to insufficient funding, thereby making it unavailable.
PsychRights also developed the Medicaid Fraud Initiative Against Psychiatric Drugging of Children and Youth, based on the United States False Claims Act, also known as whistle-blower or Qui Tam cases, in which any person can file a suit on behalf of the government when improper requests for payment have been made to the federal government, and share in the recovery, if any. The ground for this is most psychiatric drugs prescribed to children and youth on Medicaid are not permissible under Medicaid. In United States rex rel Watson v. King-Vassel, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that doctors writing such prescriptions cause false claims.
In addition to co-founding PsychRights, Gottstein co-founded several organizations, including:
- The Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web (with Katsumi Kenaston), which provides peer-support and a drop in center for mental health consumers in Anchorage;
- CHOICES, Inc. (Consumers Having Ownership in Creating Effective Services), which provides peer-run, alternative services, especially the right to choose not to take psychiatric drugs;
- Mental Health Consumers of Alaska (with Andrea Schmook and Barbara Greene), for which he served as a board member for ten years;
- Peer Properties, Inc., which was strictly an owner and operator of real estate, provides peer (mental health consumer) run housing for people diagnosed with serious mental illness who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or living in bad situations; and
- Soteria-Alaska, Inc., which was dedicated to providing a non-coercive and mainly non-drug alternative to psychiatric hospitalization, under the principles established by the late Dr. Loren Mosher.
The Zyprexa Papers
In December of 2006, James Gottstein gave documents known as the Zyprexa Papers to The New York Times showing that Eli Lilly and Company executives kept important information from doctors about Zyprexa’s links to obesity and its tendency to cause diabetes and other life-shortening metabolic problems. According to a New York Times article published on December 17, 2006, the Zyprexa Papers showed "Eli Lilly engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling medication for schizophrenia." In a December 18, 2006 article, The New York Times reported Eli Lilly illegally marketed Zyprexa for use on children and the elderly.
In 2005 and 2007 Eli Lilly settled lawsuits by 28,500 people who took Zyprexa and developed diabetes or other metabolic diseases for approximately $1.2 billion. In addition, in early 2009, Eli Lilly paid $1.415 Billion to the United States Government in False Claims Act (whistleblower) lawsuits over its illegal marketing of Zyprexa. In January, 2020, Gottstein published a book titled The Zyprexa Papers giving his first-hand account of how he obtained the Zyprexa papers, including how a small group of psychiatric survivors untraceably spread the Zyprexa Papers on the Internet and his battles on behalf of Bill Bigley, the psychiatric patient whose ordeal made possible the exposure of the Zyprexa Papers.
20 million people worldwide had taken Zyprexa since its introduction in 1996.
- Melzer, Bruce (September 13, 1992). "ADNSearch.com | IN HIM THEY TRUST LAWYER FIGHTS TO REMAKE MENTAL HEALTH LANDS". psychrights.org. Retrieved 2020-06-25.
- "Mental Health Trust Lands Litigation". psychrights.org. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
- 138 P3d. 238 (Alaska 2006),
- 156 P.3d 371 (Alaska 2007).
- 192 P.3d 989 (Alaska 2008).
- 208 P.3d 168 (Alaska 2009).
- 366 P.3d 530 (Alaska 2016).
- 435 P.3d 918 (2019).
- 728 F.3d 707 (7th Cir. 2013).
- Eli Lilly was Concerned by Zyprexa Side-Effects from 1998, The Times (London), January 23, 2007
- The New York Times December 17, 2006
- NYtimes.com Lilly to Pay Up to $500 Million to Settle Claims. The New York Times, January 4, 2007
- Gottstein, Jim (2020), 'The Zyprexa Papers,' Jim Gottstein, Anchorage, ISBN 978-0578627267 (paperback).
- Gottstein James (2018). Contributed chapter in Teaching Critical Psychology: International Perspectives, Craig Newnes and Laura Golding, Editors, Routledge. ISBN 978-1138288348 (paperback).
- Gottstein, James (2012). Contributed chapter in Drugging Our Children: How Profiteers Are Pushing Antipsychotics on Our Youngest, and What We Can Do to Stop It (Childhood in America series), Sharna Olfman and Brent Dean Robbins, editors, Praeger, ISBN 978-0313396830 (hardback).
- Gottstein, James (2010). 'Ethical and Moral Obligations Arising from Revelations of Pharmaceutical Company Dissembling,' Ethical and Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Vol. 12, No. 1: 22-29.
- Gottstein, James (2008). 'Involuntary Commitment and Forced Psychiatric Drugging In the Trial Courts: Rights Violations as a Matter of Course,' 25 Alaska Law Review 51 (2008).
- Gottstein, James B. (2007). 'Psychiatrists' Failure to Inform: Is There Substantial Financial Exposure?' Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Volume 9, Number 2.
- Gottstein, James B. (2007). 'Geld, Rechte und Alternativen. Einforderung gesetzlicher Rechte als Mittel zur Verbreitung von nichtmedizinischen Alternativen'. In Peter Lehmann & Peter Stastny (Eds.), Statt Psychiatrie 2 (pp. 321–331). Berlin / Eugene / Shrewsbury: Antipsychiatrieverlag. ISBN 978-3-925931-38-3. (E-Book 2018)
- Gottstein, James B. (2007). 'Money, Rights and Alternatives: Enforcing Legal Rights as a Mechanism for Creating Non-medical Model Alternatives'. In Peter Stastny & Peter Lehmann (Eds.), Alternatives Beyond Psychiatry (pp. 308–317). Berlin / Eugene / Shrewsbury: Peter Lehmann Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9545428-1-8 (UK), ISBN 978-0-9788399-1-8 (USA). (E-Book 2018).
- Gottstein James B. (2006/2007). Why Clients Should Not Take Psychotherapists into Their Confidence, ISPS-US Newsletter: Winter, 2006/2007, Volume 7, Issue 3.
- Goodman, Seymour E., Gottstein, James B., Goodman, Diane S. (2001). 'Wiring the Wilderness in Alaska and the Yukon, Commun.' ACM 44, 6 (June 2001), 21-26.