Ethical Representation of Mentally Ill Defendants in Criminal Cases (On Demand Seminar)

MCLE Credits: 2.0
Ethics Credits Included: 2.0

MCLE Credit: 2.0 (Ethics: 2.0)
Live-Interactive Credit: 0.0
VIDC Re-Certification Credit: 2.0 Mental Health  (VIDC Information)
Designation Credit: 2.0 Trial Practice/Litigation; 2.0 Divorce and Family Law Practice;
2.0 Ethics (Designations Information)
Price: $149 (Includes a downloadable audio version.)
Viewable Through: 03/31/2024


A pre-recorded streaming video replay of the March 20221 webcast Ethical Representation of Mentally Ill Defendants in Criminal Cases.

Topics Covered

  • Learn the ethical rules associated with handling a mentally ill client
  • Find out how to apply the ethical rules when you have a mentally ill client
  • Discover how to navigate the intersection of the pandemic and mental health ethics in the criminal landscape
  • Learn about new statutes governing deferred dispositions for certain mental health cases

The Virginia State Bar's Rules of Professional Conduct form the backdrop of any attorney-client-based interaction. In their application to handling mentally ill clients, the Rules are instructive but often difficult to apply in challenging situations that a defense counsel may face. Rule 1.14 spells out a guide for representing "Client with Impairment." Other Rules of importance are Rule 1.1, "Competence"; Rule 1.2, "Scope of Representation"; Rule 1.3, "Diligence"; Rule 1.4, "Communication"; Rule 1.6, "Confidentiality of Information"; and Rule 1.7, “Conflict of Interest." While certainly not exhaustive, as unusual situations may occur that draw in other applicable Rules, these are just some of the rules that a criminal defense attorney must consider when dealing with a mentally ill client.

How to determine where the ethical line is in dealing with your mentally ill criminal client can be difficult, especially when the line itself is in as much flux as your client's mental status. Would you know what to do it if a client is out of custody and tells you that he is going to kill his mother? What is your obligation under the Rules? What if instead of killing his mother, he now states that people are after him and he will shoot anyone who comes near him? What now? What if he makes no threats but you are aware that he is paranoid and delusional, and has guns in his house? How does that alter your position? What if you don't believe him under any of the scenarios? You think he is malingering—what if he's not? What if you truly believe him based on past attorney-client discussions. What do you do? What Rules apply?

This seminar will discuss the Rules of Professional Conduct involved in challenging scenarios like these and how to navigate these difficult situations. The presenters will discuss how to handle difficult scenarios when you have a mentally ill client, but also take you through what your ethical obligations are when dealing with a mentally ill client.

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D. Bradley Marshall, Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, PC / Manassas
Annette Miller, Virginia Beach Public Defender’s Office / Virginia Beach


D. Bradley Marshall, Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, P.C. / Manassas
Bradley Marshall is an attorney at Vanderpool, Frostick & Nishanian, PC, in Manassas, where he leads the firm’s white collar and criminal defense section, is co-lead for their investigations section, and practices in the municipal law and civil litigation sections. Prior to that, he served as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney in Prince William County for over a decade, where he specialized in prosecuting criminal street gang cases, violent crimes, firearms offenses, and mental health-related cases. 

Mr. Marshall recently was appointed by the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors for a four-year term to the Community Services Board, which oversees mental health and behavioral health services.  He is in his second term as President of the Prince William County Bar Foundation, is the Chairman of the Community Criminal Justice Board, and is past-President of the Prince William County Bar Association. He also serves on the Virginia State Bar Special Committee on Bench-Bar Relations and the State Bar’s renowned Carrico Professionalism Course Faculty.  Mr. Marshall is on the legal faculty at the PWC Public Safety Academy, has lectured at Northern Virginia Community College as well as George Mason University, and regularly teaches continuing legal education courses on topics such as Constitutional Law, Mental Health Ethics, Specialty Dockets, Immigration Law, and Criminal Street Gang Laws.  He is heavily involved in criminal justice reform at the local and state level, serving on the Evidence-Based Decision Making Policy Committee, as a member of the local DIVERT Committee on the mentally ill in the criminal justice system, and helped establish and implement Prince William County's Mental Health and Veterans Treatment Dockets.

Mr. Marshall received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and his juris doctorate degree from Michigan State University.  He is a 2013 graduate of Leadership Prince William, received the Potomac Local “Forty Under 40” Award in 2014, the County Executive Award for 2015, was in the inaugural class of Virginia’s “Up & Coming Lawyers” in 2016, and received the 2017 Prince William County Bar Association Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award.

Annette Miller, Virginia Beach Public Defender’s Office / Virginia Beach
Annette Miller is a Senior Trial Attorney with the City of Virginia Beach.  She has been a public defender from 1995 to the present and specializes in those individuals who suffer from serious mental illnesses.  Her undergraduate degree is from Virginia Tech, with a double major in English and Political Science (1979-83).  She has a master’s degree in English from Syracuse University and taught English at Syracuse while completing her degree requirements (1983-1985).  Her law degree is from the University of Richmond (1988). She was the first law clerk for the Virginia Beach Circuit Court judges (1989-91). 

Ms. Miller worked for Parker Pollard & Brown from 1991-1995, specializing in workers’ compensation and personal injury.  She was awarded a Virginia Beach Human Rights Award for mental health education and advocacy in 2000.  She was published in the American Bar Association’s Criminal Litigation magazine, Winter 2010, Volume 10, Number 2.  The article is entitled “The Post-Adjudication ‘Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity’ Process in the State of Virginia.” 

Ms. Miller regularly teaches a comprehensive CLE seminar for her office entitled “Handling Criminal Cases and the Mentally Ill, A Guide for Attorneys, Clients, & Their Families”  and has lectured extensively in the field including, but not limited to, the Virginia State Bar’s 42nd Annual Criminal Law Seminar, 2008 Regional Judge’s Conference,  2012 Virginia Beach Bar Association’s Seminar entitled “Representing a Client with Mental Health Issues,” and the Indigent Defense Commission’s Late Day Lecture Series on Mental Health Ethics (2016). She continues to lecture during the pandemic exclusively by Zoom (a juvenile court CLE and a guardianship conference).

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