The Mental Hygiene Legal Service (MHLS) provides legal services, advice and assistance to persons receiving care or alleged to be in need of care at inpatient and community-based facilities for the mentally disabled.
Created in 1964 and organized under Mental Hygiene Law Article 47, MHLS represents such persons in judicial and administrative proceedings concerning admission, retention, transfer, treatment and guardianship. In addition to handling judicial proceedings, MHLS provides advice and representation regarding standards of care and other matters affecting the civil liberties of persons receiving care at facilities for the mentally disabled. MHLS can be assigned as counsel or court evaluator in Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 guardianship proceedings for persons in any type of facility or in the community (link to Counsel to Children Webpage–Guardianship section tbd). Finally, Article 10 of the Mental Hygiene Law institutionalizes MHLS as counsel of choice in all sex offender civil management cases.
MHLS for the First Judicial Department covers New York County and Bronx County and maintains nine field offices in the two counties in addition to its Departmental Office.