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Kelly S. Karase

Assistant United States Attorney

Middle District of Florida - Jacksonville

Click here to view an Interview with the Assistant United States Attorney Kelly S. Karase and find answers for the below questions:

Please tell me a little bit more about yourself like your educational background, job title, the different roles you have as an Attorney, and how long you have been doing this!


About how often do you work with cases involving individuals with behavioral health issues or substance abuse disorders? 


Before directly communicating with an attorney, a client usually initially speaks to legal support staff who gather information about the client and case, which they then convey to the attorney. In relevant cases, does this information ever include a mental health profile of the individual?  


Criminal defense lawyers are often taught to be sensitive to the individual they are working with. Understanding the characteristics and conditions of an individual probably helps be more understanding of their situation and case. If a mental health profile of a client is provided in a case or if the client is identified to have a mental health condition, how do you apply this information in interacting with the individual? Is training given to legal professionals on the communication skills you may need to use when handling those with such issues? 


If training and education regarding handling clients with mental health issues are provided to attorneys, does this training involve learning about characteristics of individuals with such issues to help recognize and be more aware of these characteristics communicating to the client? 


In an initial consultation with an attorney, a client may share some personal information that the attorney must keep confidential unless the information is relevant to the legal matter or for public-safety reasons, in which the attorney is required to share it with a court of law enforcement. If a client shares information about a mental health condition diagnosis, is this information always shared to court by default so it can be taken into consideration, or is it sometimes kept confidential? 


If, when communicating to a client, the client claims to have a mental health issue without an official medical diagnosis, is mental health screening or referral to a professional who could give diagnosis provided to the client? 


People with mental health issues may be more sensitive to high-pressure situations such as being involved in a criminal case and may be more prone to become uncooperative. Are specific measures and policies provided to attorneys outlining how to communicate with individuals with behavioral health issues or substance abuse disorders to avoid escalating behavior and to promote efficient communication? 


An important role of an attorney is to stay informed about current legislation. What is some key legislation regarding the treatment of mental health in the criminal justice system? Has this legislation changed over your time working as a legal professional (has more legislation been introduced or updated)? 


Does your legal court have ties or relationships with any mental health services? 


Upon doing research, I found that Mental Health Courts and Drug Courts do exist. In our initial phone call, I think you mentioned Mental Health Trials. Can you please elaborate on what these trials are and provide any information you may know about Mental Health and Drug courts? 


Does an individual ever exhibit certain characteristics in an initial consultation (such as extreme emotion, aggression, or even violence) that warrants a different type of treatment? If this does happen, is anyone called to restrain the individual or provide specialized legal counseling?


Being involved in a criminal case is probably a stressful experience for witnesses in a case, especially depending on factors such as their age. In our initial call, you mentioned that therapy dogs are sometimes used to provide some stress relief. Are there any other tools or services or post-trial debriefing provided to support witnesses before or after a trial? 


Being an attorney or any legal professional is a mentally taxing job, with its constant exposure to stressful environments and demanding hours. While statistics indicate that mental health or substance abuse issues are prevalent among attorneys, opening up about such issues is stigmatized as attorneys may believe disclosing a mental health condition may jeopardize their credibility. Are any resources or services provided to support you guys to deal with the pressures of your practice? 


Are any resources provided to families of attorneys to help them recognize and identify signs of unhealthy stress and support attorneys if they are going through a particularly stressful time? 

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