Three freedom prizes to 3 particularly successful lawyers

Lunatic Offensive Freedom Prizes  for each of our three particularly loyal trusted advocates
The laudation spoken by René Talbot

We have awarded three Freedom Prizes so far. The first in 2002 to Thomas Szasz, the second in 2005 to Thomas Saschenbrecker and the third in 2010 to Wolf-Dieter Narr. Unfortunately, all three have since passed away.
But since the debate on coercive psychiatry is not yet over and has rather entered a new phase since 2009 due to the Patient Advance Directive Act and the CRPD, it is high time to award our three particularly loyal trusted advocates with the Golden Torch for Subversive Legal Studies as a thank you for their partisan advocacy. While it is only a symbolic award, it has already become special because of the previous recipients.

Dear Eckart, first of all to you:
You have stood by us since about 1987, at a time when there was almost no flower pot to be won. Forced psychiatry was simply a system of injustice, a phalanx of doctors and judges. You could hardly make a stab at it. In addition, clients are often very poor, completely inexperienced with the justice system and sometimes difficult, contradicting themselves in what they want. Sometimes the situation is aggravated by the fact that, with completely exaggerated expectations, downright miracles are hoped for from a lawyer. So it is regularly a certain challenge to accept such a mandate, especially because the judges are not judges, but biased in all questions concerning psychiatry.  This becomes particularly clear in the case of an incapacitation misleadingly called „care“. The will of the person concerned has been condemned as sick by a psychiatric expert and is completely irrelevant. The judge leans back and makes his judgment with the conviction of the so-called „expert“. The only thing left to do is to put together the same formulations from the word processing program, and that’s it.
Professionally, this is completely frustrating for a lawyer. Typically, lawyers then like to change sides and prefer to be paid as professional advisors. The fact that they become the court’s lackey in the process, this conflict of interest, is simply ignored. Nevertheless, not having thrown in the towel for 35 years, but having accepted new mandates year after year, that alone is worthy of distinction. I would therefore like to single out just three special mandates in which you defended our interests:

  • Gianfranco Belli was finally released from forensic terror detention on Dec. 1, 2015, after more than 18 years. He had committed only a minor crime, no assault, only a threat and damage to property, and for that he had been punished more severely with forensics than a murderer would normally be punished. It was still a struggle, however, until you could finally get him free on Dec. 1, 2015; the prosecutor’s office was determined to continue the psychiatric lockdown. So at least Gianfranco could die in freedom.
  • It was particularly sad how Helena Zentner did not know how to help herself any more when she evaded a forced incarceration on 10.1.2008 by leaping to her death. The imposed guardian had used his judicial mandate against her. The complaints against the injustice of this forced incapacitation had been sued by you for years through all instances and your constitutional complaint had been pending for over a year. You talked about it in a Report München program. In my eyes, it was a denial of justice, a complete failure of justice.
  • In my opinion, with a really good lawyer you have to be able to lose, then at least you are left with the feeling that you have done everything yourself and that others are responsible for the failure. That’s how it was when we in Rostock wanted to make the slanderer pay the bill he had caused before he had withdrawn his false claim that we had something to do with Scientology. You went to Rostock with Uwe despite the small amount in dispute, but the court was tough. You went with us through thick and thin, so to speak.

In the face of many enemies, but with much honor, accept today our Freedom Award for subversive legal knowledge, especially for your perseverance and reliability.

Dear Alexander
We have been working together for 20 years now. You have persistently pursued mandates even through several instances and never let go.
In particular, we would like to thank you for your defense of basic rights, when there is a health care proxy and when attempts are made to disregard a PatVerfue, which has been possible since 2009. It all began in 2002 with the sad and vicious disenfranchisement of Anne Hilsberg in the Wenkebach Hospital, who was not only illegally imprisoned and forcibly treated, but then also incapacitated. In spite of her representation agreement, you unfortunately did not succeed in freeing her from this. She played the music at our 25th anniversary celebration in November 2005, but then took her own life on February 5, 2006. It was the time when the courts came up with the monstrosity of saying that a power of attorney that is not turned against the representation agreement in accordance with psychiatry could simply be declared invalid, precisely because the power of attorney was supposed to be able to break the will of the representation agreement. A power of attorney, whose only sense consists of fulfilling the will of the authorizing person! Courts, which judge in such a way, are thus not only completely arbitrarily and blind concerncing human rights, but also disregard  fundamental principles of justice, only to be helpful to psychiatry. When the Living Wills Act came into force in 2009, the situation in the courts improved. I would just like to point out four important successes of yours.

Because you persistently carried the illegal confinement and forced treatment in Wunstorf all the way to the Celle Higher Regional Court in 2006/7, the entire ordeal of the affected persons was ultimately recognized as unjust. On this basis, RA Walker was able to obtain a settlement of € 30,000 at the end of 2016.
Your 3 successes in 2020 were great: On 17.4.2020, after 2 years, the Berlin Regional Court finally determined that the guardian is bound by the living will of the person concerned, the PatVerfü must be observed by doctors, as well as guardians and courts. The consent of the caregiver to compulsory treatment and the court approval in the summary proceedings was wrong.
On 26.5.2020 you managed through your persistence that the BVerfG even revised the decision of a Bavarian regional court – a Bavarian court, which are particularly known for their arbitrary rulings in psychiatry, congratulations!
On 4.8.2020 again a decision of the BVerfG against the continuation of forced incarceration by a guardian, which you achieved.
In recognition of this, our Freedom Award for Subversive Legal Studies.

Dear David
Our collaboration began in 2011 with your commentary on the Federal Constitutional Court’s drumbeat that all previous compulsory treatment laws had been constitutionally illegal. You presented the arguments as the attorney for the affected party in these proceedings.
Unfortunately, we were unable to prevent the federal and state legislatures from ignoring the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in violation of human rights and passing new laws on compulsory treatment. But you succeeded in particular with the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court in June 2021 to make the PatVerfü a condition excluding compulsory treatment, even if the so protected, allegedly „dangerous in itself“, person should be locked up in the Maßregelvollzug. This is not just a single, selective victory, as was the case with the success of Gustl Mollath, but it is a victory across the board. The PatVerfü thus became like jus cogens, which means: the judges, the caregivers, the doctors and also the legislators, all must now abide by the fact that no psychiatric coercive treatment measures can be legalized against a PatVerfü anymore.
You had already told me years ago that a breakthrough should be made in forensics in particular. I had assumed that first in non-forensic psychiatry the PatVerfü would have to become court-proof, because in forensics the confinement is legitimized by a convicted crime anyway, so the deprivation of liberty is legal even for non-mentally ill diagnosed offenders. You were right, and I can only congratulate you and us on that.

This decision was preceded by the many proceedings in which you accepted the mandate and tirelessly fought for fundamental and human rights against the judicially supported, arbitrary psychiatric system. It would be too long to list all these proceedings, especially those for the enforcement of the PatVerfü. But step by step, the balance has shifted in our favor since 2010. A clear sign for it is, how the attempt of the CDU led North-Rhine/Westphalia Ministry of Justice, ambulatory compulsory treatment by law to make possible, immediately already on federal state level had failed, after the North-Rhine/Westphalia government of the psychiatry experienced ones a statement in January of this year, thoroughly justified by you, had handed over.  A success, which we could obtain 2003 – 2005 still very laboriously with many demonstrations and legal opinions of Thomas Saschenbrecker first on federal level and then in Bremen. All signs that the hegemony of coercive psychiatry is broken. Since March 1 of this year, even the DGSP has changed sides and publicly demands the abolition of §§ 20, 21, 63 and 64.

The monolithic system of coercive psychiatry is crumbling. We will do everything we can to ensure that this erosion continues, if possible even at an accelerated pace.
As a thank you for your contribution, this freedom award for subversive jurisprudence.