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The Wrongful Death of Larry Neal
The Secret Death of a Mentally Ill Heart Patient in a
Tennessee Jail and the Subsequent Cover-Up

UPDATES

February 2008

Hattie Neal and Mary Neal v. The (Johnny) Cochran Firm
United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Div.
Civil Action No.: 1:07-CV-1935-TCB
Filed: 8/15/07 (pro se -- to protect the 4-year statute on contract fraud)
Jury Trial Demanded - $30 MILLION DEMAND - 1/3 per defendant below:

  • Cochran Cherry Givens & Smith, P.C., Dothan AL
  • Cochran Firm Memphis Office (where contract was signed)
  • David McLaughlin, Esq., as an individual Diversity Action (different state residence among defendants and plaintiffs)

Attorney's inquiries welcome. Find our information on the CONTACT US tab.




Listen to the Interview!

Listen to last month's interview of Mary Neal about her brother Larry on the Wake Up Call Show blogtalkradio program.

Listen to Wake Up Call Show on internet talk radio



Larry Neal's family continue their quest for justice against The Cochran Firm, which pretended (under contract) to represent Larry's family in a wrongful death action against the Shelby County, Tennessee Jail following Larry's secret incarceration and wrongful death in that facility on August 1, 2003, and for official records and accountability about Larry's secret arrest and death. Larry's family is hopeful that justice will be served in the above lawsuit, which is being conducted under The Honorable Timothy C. Batten.

http://www.usdoj.gov/olp/battenresume.htm

God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. Psalm 7:11




Please support our troops, many of whom are returning home from the battlefield suffering from post traumatic stress disorder or brain damage caused by head injuries during combat. Help our vets and many thousands of mentally ill citizens presently imprisoned in America, who should be either (a) released through parole or probation under mandatory psychiatric treatment provisions, or (b) committed to quality mental hospitals. America must do better than homelessness, jail, and death for our mentally challenged citizens. And yes, it is cheaper to treat than to jail our sick citizens!

Survey to show lawmakers that voters care about justice for our mentally ill citizens


Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18




DISCLAIMER: The organizations and news sources listed are completely independent of Mary Neal and Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill ("AIMI"). AIMI does not endorse or recommend any commercial products, processes, or services. The views and opinions of news affiliates and organizations on AIMI's website do not necessarily state or reflect those of AIMI, and they may not be used for advertising or endorsement purposes. Some AIMI pages may provide links to other Internet sites for the convenience of users. AIMI is not responsible for the availability or content of these external sites, nor does AIMI endorse, warrant, or guarantee the products, services, or information described or offered at these other Internet sites.


MENTAL HEALTH NEWS

The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law reports that President Bush has drastically cut funding for community mental health services. Click here to read the full article here at Bazelon.org.

Community Mental Health Services Hit Hard
The President's $3-trillion spending plan for fiscal year 2009 drastically slashes community mental health services funding for the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The $144 million cut (nearly half of the discretionary budget) of CMHS' Programs of Regional and National Significance (PRNS) would set community mental health services funding significantly below the levels five years ago, stifling innovation and severely restricting progress.

Veterans Share Stories as Work Starts on Mental Health Bills
Excepts from article by Philip Rucker; The Washington Post - Friday, February 22, 2008; Page B06

Maryland lawmakers began work on the bills this week by hearing testimony from veterans [regarding their mental illness, the stigma attached thereto, and difficulty in accessing mental health services]. "In a perfect world, the federal government would help ensure the welfare and care of veterans," Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown said. But "we don't live in a perfect world."

From 2006 to 2007, the suicide rate of veterans increased by 20 percent, Brown said. Since the Iraq conflict began in 2003, he said, the rate of attempted suicide by veterans increased by 600 percent.

Illinois' New Gun Law Under Scrutiny
Excerpts from an article by Michael Tarm; The Associated Press - Tuesday, February 19, 2008; 4:04 AM

CHICAGO -- Illinois lawmakers moved swiftly after last year's massacre at Virginia Tech to make it harder for anyone with a history of mental illness to buy guns, fortifying what were already some of the nation's toughest weapons laws.

Steven Kazmierczak, the 27-year-old grad student who bought an arsenal of guns in recent months and used them to kill five people and commit suicide, had been on medication and was said to have spent time in a psychiatric center as a teen in the late 1990s.

Seung-Hui Cho, killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech in April 2007.

Federal Requirements Regarding Gun Purchases by the Mentally Ill
Excerpt from Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law Action Alert, May 17, 2007

Federal law and regulation require that states send a list of individuals who, under the federal Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, are barred from possessing or purchasing a firearm. This is accomplished through the NICS, run by the FBI. States are required to send information about certain individuals with mental disabilities to the FBI so these names can be entered into the NICS.

The federal law applies to individuals who have been "adjudicated as a mental defective or ha[ve] been committed to any mental institution" (27 C.F.R § 178.11). The applicable regulations define the term "adjudicated as a mental defective" to include:
Individuals who as a result of mental illness are a danger to themselves or others; or
Individuals who lack the mental capacity to contract or manage their own affairs; or
Individuals found to be insane by a court in a criminal case (i.e., not guilty by reason of insanity or not criminally responsible or other such equivalent finding).

The regulations specifically exclude individuals who receive care in a mental institution on a voluntary basis.***

***Note: Because the law excludes individuals who receive care on a voluntary basis, Steven Kazmierczak would likely have been allowed to purchase his arsenal of weapons, despite his mental illness.

House Passes Mental Health Parity Extension Bill
By Jerry Geisel; Posted on Business Insurance website, Feb. 07, 2008 3:13 PM CST

WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation to extend through the end of 2008 a federal law that bars group health care plans from providing lower annual and lifetime dollar limits on mental health care services than other medical services.

The House action comes as House sponsors of a broader mental health care benefits parity measure have been working to drum up enough support to bring up that measure for a vote on the House floor.

That broader bill, which several House committees approved last year, would mandate equitable coverage for any mental health care service listed in the psychiatric industry's compendium of mental disorders.

The Senate has passed a narrower measure. While that bill also mandates equitable coverage, it leaves it to employers to decide which mental health care disorders they will cover in their plans.




SPOTLIGHT ON ORGANIZATIONS ADVOCATING FOR MENTALLY CHALLENGED CITIZENS AND OTHER DISENFRANCHISED AMERICANS

THE CARTER CENTER'S MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM

The Carter Center is committed to the goal of achieving better mental health for all. Back in 1971 when Mrs. Rosalynn Carter began working on mental health care issues, few people even spoke the words "mental health." Mrs. Carter continues her advocacy efforts through the Carter Center's Mental Health Program, founded in 1991. The program focuses on mental health policy issues with four strategic goals:

  1. To reduce stigma and discrimination against people with mental illnesses
  2. To achieve equity for mental health care comparable to other health care
  3. To advance promotion, prevention, and early intervention services for children and their families
  4. To increase public awareness worldwide about mental health and mental illness and to stimulate local actions to address those issues.

See The Carter Center's Mental Health Program's brochure by clicking here. (Adobe Acrobat Required)

COMMUNITY ACTION COALITION

http://www.communityactions.org/

The Community Action Coalition's mission is defined by our vision and commitment to provide empowerment, e-activism, and education.

  • We locate and promote self help through social services to the disadvantage that in turn will build a stronger community.
  • We foster and celebrate cultural differences and have sensitivity for a diversified community in which we share a common humanity.
  • We partner with those organizations, individuals, businesses, and churches that are willing to promote and sponsor programs that empower people to work toward a better quality of life.
  • We provide a forum for the voiceless through various means on social and political issues that matter to the community.
  • We focus on issues of injustice to support justice and legislation to improve the lives of the public. The projects that we employ enhance the livelihood of many, thereby improving society.

Founder's Statement: "We acknowledge that we are stronger when we work together!"

IDRISS STELLEY FOUNDATION (ISF)

Law Enforcement Accountability Direct Services
Red Stone Building, Suite #209
2940 16th Street, SF CA 94110
REPORT POLICE MISCONDUCT
(415) 595-8251 (24-hr. Bilingual Crisis line)

Mission Statement: Idriss Stelley Foundation ("ISF")'s primary goal is to create systemic changes to end law enforcement brutality through grassroots campaigns and by empowering victims and survivors of law enforcement misconduct, towards true social and racial justice for all. ISF provides law enforcement accountability direct services, with a special emphasis on ending racially biased policing though providing individual counseling, support groups, information and referrals to those who have been negatively impacted, and/or disabled by police violence, and to assist biologically-extended families of those killed by law enforcement.

The primary focus of ISF, justified by casualty statistics is: to serve the Bay Area African American community and families of color, although no one is turned down. Home visits in the Bay Area can be scheduled if needed.

Founder's Statement: "A number of ISF clients are people who are mentally ‘differently able.' (ISF does not use the label ‘mentally ill')." The following website is moderated by ISF:

http://mysite.verizon.net/vzeo9ewi/idrissstelleyfoundation/

http://www.myspace.com/ISFOUNDATION

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Justice4Mahdi/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SPAAMI

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Justice4Kayla/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Justice4Kayla/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/melvin4justice/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PTSD_PoliceAbuseSurvivors/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FreeTedNelson/

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Justice4richard/




LETTER FROM CONGRESSMAN HANK JOHNSON



January 29, 2008
Ms. Mary Neal
5315 Kelleys Mill Circle
Stone Mountain, GA 30088-3824

Dear Ms. Neal:

Thank you for contacting my office. I am always eager to hear from my constituents and appreciate your interest. I hope that my office can be a useful resource to you.

As your congressman, I have had the opportunity to help bring about some substantial reforms and support important initiatives - such as improving conditions for homeownership, expanding access to health care for our children, and bringing increased safety and security to our homeland.

I have also introduced a number of bills that I hope will help to make the lives of all our citizens a little better. One of them will help prosecutors combat public corruption and another preserves your right to a jury trial in consumer disputes. I am also working on expansive legislation to address the predatory lending crisis affecting a number of people in the Fourth District. In addition, the state of mental health services in this country is a serious issue and I assure you that I am paying close attention to it.

I want to reiterate that I depend on people like you to help me as I continue my work for the American people. Please visit my office on-line at www.hankjohnson.house.gov and continue to contact me with your concerns.

Sincerely,

Hank Johnson

Mary Neal's response: Thank you, Congressman Johnson, for your continuing support of laws that assist the mentally ill in Georgia and throughout America, as well as addressing many other areas of concern to our nation. We appreciate your taking the time to write to us, especially during this busy campaign season. Best of luck to you regarding your bid for re-election!




COMMENTS FROM MARY NEAL – FEBRUARY 2008

We appreciate all that our elected representatives, civic leaders, religious leaders, journalists, and the general population do to work toward better living conditions for the mentally ill and render much needed assistance to their families. Let us continue to work together with our might to ensure that while our country is engaged in global conflict for the sake of human rights, we do not neglect to secure humane treatment for all Americans. None of our citizens, and particularly our brave veterans, should have to live under the threat of homelessness, jail, and death due to a disability. America is better than that, and we have been blessed by God with the resources and resourcefulness to address our nation's mental health crisis BEFORE another tragedy like the wrongful death of my poor brother, Larry Neal.

Larry died under secret arrest in the custody of a jail that was already under federal overview. Yet, the U.S. Department of Justice steadfastly refuses to conduct any investigation regarding his death. I do not know if Larry is less important than Michael Vick's dogs because he was an African American, or because he was poor, or because he was an American with a disability. Website visitors, I cannot give you answers to these questions. You would have to call the Justice Department or send an e-mail to your representatives (see the link at the bottom of pages on this website) and ask them why Larry did not count and his family's quest for justice is ignored year after year.

  • Why did the Shelby County, Tennessee Jail repeatedly and falsely deny having Larry Neal under arrest for 18 days while his family and social worker looked for him to give him his heart drugs?

  • Why did the Shelby County Attorney write to me saying that the jail's semi-annual report, including a critical incident review report about Larry's death, had been filed with the United States Department of Justice in accordance with the terms of the jail's Agreement with the United States of America, yet the Justice Department denies receiving any such thing?

  • After notifying the Justice Department of Larry's secret incarceration and wrongful death, I read in the online Commercial Appeal, a major Memphis, Tennessee newspaper, that hearings were being conducted in United States District Court to decide whether Shelby County Jail was in compliance with the terms of its Agreement with the United States of America to correct its pattern of violating the civil rights of inmates. Did the Justice Department even ask Shelby County Jail about my brother's secret death, or did it simply ignore Larry's suffering and death in that jail's custody during those hearings and release the jail as though everything was just fine?

  • You might also call the television network that has your favorite news team and ask why these events are not covered. If we were not blacked out by mainstream media, some investigative journalists might have long ago helped to bring closure to Larry's family.

My country tis of thee, America! Larry's country was of thee. He was always proud of his citizenship and would likely have become a soldier, had he not been handicapped. Please stand with us and help us to find answers regarding his death and the apparent cover-up that followed by The Cochran Firm and others.

http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh697.sht

Larry's 85-year-old mother and I have no lawyer to ask these questions for us. We will be working hard over the next few weeks to frame questions like these into a legally acceptable set of discovery documents; however, we have been disappointed in the court process before (read about this under the FULL STORY tab on our website).

Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour. Leviticus 19:15

Lawmakers, most mental patients are like my brother, Larry. They never hurt anyone and never will. Therefore, please help these patients and their families by making inpatient services more assessable to the acutely mentally ill and give those who are trying to function in their communities across America better out-patient treatment options and support. Do not depend on sick people to recognize their need for psychiatric treatment, because like Larry, many are too delusional when off their meds to recognize the necessity of continued monitoring and care. Why should we wait until there is another dead body and smoking gun (most often in the hands of a law officer) to realize a mental patient needed help? Let us establish some sensible guidelines to avoid tragedies like the Seung-Hui Cho and Steven Kazmierczak massacres. I know that some powerful mental health organizations and civil liberties groups disagree with AIMI on how to address these issues, but just look at the statistics and be guided by the truth instead of lobbyists. Thousands of formerly institutionalized mental patients have been "freed" to rejoin society (a) without a mandate for continuing psychiatric care and drug therapy for those who most need it, and (b) without provisions for their basic welfare, and our prison populations rose accordingly. Our lawmakers decided decades ago that it was a violation of mentally ill citizens' civil rights to enforce psychiatric treatment until a patient proves to be a danger to himself or others. What does this mean? Must we wait to see a smoking gun or dripping knife and bodies strewn from here to there before deciding that intervention is warranted? Roughly 30% of America's prisoners are mentally ill. Did they understand their Miranda rights? Do they even realize why they are locked up, many of them naked? Want to see how many of these sick people are treated by the criminal justice system? Below is a video of a woman being treated like a mentally ill American, although she is NOT a mental patient. Apparently, one of her responses to the policeman who was questioning her qualified her for this type of treatment. (Careful! This link has graphic violence and partial nudity.)

http://www.wkyc.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=82447

Terrible, right? Don't you agree that mental patients belong in a hospital, not jail? Do you think that someone who is already mentally disturbed would be absolutely frantic after such treatment? Would you like it if you or someone you love was treated this way? We initially thought Larry was naked when his body was sent to the Shelby County, Tennessee Medical Examiner's office to hide mace, pepper spray, or bloodstains on his prison garments. We later learned that mentally ill people are routinely kept in cold, isolated prison cells, naked to guard against self-inflicted injuries or suicide. My brother was never suicidal, but of course, police are not psychiatrists and are unequal to making that professional judgment. Please consider and reconsider America's treatment of the mentally ill. God cannot be pleased with this type of cruelty to disabled persons in our country which He has so abundantly blessed.

American is the world's model for democracy. How can my beloved country justify the way Larry's death is being treated by the United States Justice Department and the way The Cochran Firm tricked my family, so far without any censure? I love dogs, but they are not more deserving of justice than my brother and my family! Can't you see that? Or is my family the wrong color or too lacking in affluence to expect justice? Reconsider and be fair and true. I ask it of you, and God demands it. Remember Him? He is the one we write slogans about on our money: "In God We Trust."

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40

Larry may have been considered "least" in the sense that he looked bad often – wearing mix-matched clothes and exhibiting erratic behavior. Larry could not think clearly except for when he was medicated properly. His elderly mother and sister may be considered "least" in that we are people of color with modest means. But we are God's own people: We are His, and He is our Lord! Therefore, we trust God to touch the hearts of some of our website visitors to help bring resolution to this ungodliness and these injustices that are so unworthy of America. If the resolution we desire is not God's will, then we yet trust God that His righteous judge, Jesus Christ, will recompense those responsible for mistreating Larry and thousands of other mentally ill and otherwise disenfranchised people according to your works, both in this lifetime and on His great day of judgment, when the following prophecy shall be fulfilled:

Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' Matthew 25:41-45.
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