UNM Law Professor's Research Cited In Federal Court Class Certification Decision

April 23, 2014


Legal scholarship by Yael Zakai Cannon, Assistant Professor of the University of New Mexico School of Law, was cited in an important federal court class certification decision affecting children with mental health needs in Illinois in February. "Yael's research is a wonderful example of the practical impact of faculty scholarship – her work is helping shape federal law in important and positive ways," says Professor Max Minzner, Associate Dean for Faculty Development.

Cannon's legal scholarship was cited in a decision made by United States District Court Judge John F. Tharp, Jr., in N.B., et. al., v. Hamos on February 13, 2014. The suit was brought under Medicaid law and the Americans with Disabilities Act, arguing that children in Illinois with mental health needs have been inappropriately segregated in institutional settings because the state has not made necessary home and community-based services available to those children and youth.

Tharp ruled that the lawsuit could proceed on behalf of Medicaid-eligible children in Illinois who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder and for whom a doctor or other licensed practitioner has recommended intensive home- and community- based mental health services.

Cannon's article, "There's No Place Like Home: Realizing the Vision of Community-Based Mental Health Treatment for Children" was published in the Law Review of the DePaul University College of Law. Tharp cited Cannon's article in determining that under Medicaid law, "[w]hen doctors find that services are medically necessary, the state must pay for those services and assure that payments are ‘sufficient to enlist enough providers so that care and services are available under the plan at least to the extent that such care and services are available to the general population in that geographic area'."

"It is critical for children with mental health needs to have timely access to necessary services so that they can thrive at home, at school, and in their communities instead of being institutionalized," says Cannon.

Cannon recently published another article about the legal rights of children with mental health needs, in which she and her co-authors, Michael Gregory (Harvard Law School) and Julie Waterstone (Southwestern Law School), argue that the effective delivery of special education services for children with mental health needs can help to ensure better outcomes for those children. That piece, "A Solution Hiding In Plain Sight: Special Education And Better Outcomes For Students With Social, Emotional, And Behavioral Challenges," was published in March in the Fordham Urban Law Journal.