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After serving as Chief Judge for New York’s highest court, the New York State Court of Appeals, Sol Wachtler has since become a champion of mental health issues, particularly where mental illness collides with the law. Following his retirement from the bench in 1993, Sol Wachtler founded the Law and Psychiatry Institute (LPI) under the aegis of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. LPI works with New York courts to achieve accurate psychological evaluations and fair sentences for defendants who suffer from mental illness. In addition, LPI organizes seminars to train lawyers and judges in issues of forensic mental health. Sol Wachtler’s LPI also has produced a training video for New York City police officers to instruct them in the safe apprehension of suspects who may have mental problems. Sol Wachtler has advocated for an end to solitary confinement for mentally ill prisoners, declaring it cruel and unusual punishment. which only leads to further mental deterioration and dysfunction., He has proposed alternatives to incarceration for the mentally ill. An Army veteran from the Korean War era, Sol Wachtler helped to create the New York Veterans Court Program, and advocated for increased support for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress after service in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Sol Wachtler has also worked with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Autism Speaks Inc., The Mosaic School, and the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Sol Wachtler wrote a chapter for the 2002 legal manual entitled Serving Mentally Ill Offenders: Challenges and Opportunities for Mental Health Professionals. For his work in helping the Mental Health Association in New York State in assisting its clients with right to counsel, consumer protection, and outpatient commitment issues, Sol Wachtler received an award from the organization in 2000 and a 2011 Outstanding Trustee Award from the United Hospital Association of New York.. He often speaks before mental health groups across the country for no fee. Sol Wachtler has Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees from Washington and Lee University. He currently teaches at Touro Law Center as an adjunct faculty member in addition to serving on the school’s Board of Governors.

Work experience

Adjunct Faculty Member

Touro Law Center
Dec 1981Jan 1985

Chief Judge

State of New York


Sep 1947Feb 1952


Washington and Lee University

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