MHLS offers legal representation, advice and assistance to persons residing in facilities for the mentally disabled concerning retention, release, care, and treatment. The facilities may be state, city, voluntary, or private, and may be community based or institutional.

MHLS investigates complaints of clients, their relatives, and friends concerning care and treatment.

MHLS has complete access to facility records of the mentally disabled in New York State. We keep all client information confidential.

MHLS accepts requests for help or information from clients, their family, or friends who contact MHLS by telephone, letter, or personal visits.

MHLS represents the mentally disabled in civil commitment proceedings and other cases. Our staff offers various alternatives and solutions to advocate a client's wishes and interests. We may file lawsuits on behalf of our clients.

MHLS represents individuals subject to court ordered Assisted Outpatient Treatment.

MHLS also represents individuals in need of a guardian, when authorized by a court, regardless of the individual's residence.

MHLS refers a person to the appropriate agency if a request is outside our jurisdiction. For example, we do not represent individuals in matters regarding wills, divorces, or actions for damages against other individuals.


Definitions Section 1023.1
Duties of Director Section 1023.2
Guardian ad litem and court evaluator Section 1023.3
Additional psychiatric, psychological, medical or expert opinion Section 1023.4
Review of proposed transfer of patient or of changes of status of patients Section 1023.5
Fees Section 1023.6
Records to be confidential Section 1023.7


Administrative Office

Elizabeth S. Fortino,  Director

M. Dolores Denman Courthouse
50 East Avenue, Suite 402
Rochester, New York 14604

Phone: (585) 530-3050

Buffalo Area

Keith Fehrer, Principal Attorney in Charge

438 Main Street, Suite 400
Buffalo, New York 14202-3211

Phone: (716) 845-3650

Rochester Area

Frank S. Pappalardo, Principal Attorney in Charge

M. Dolores Denman Courthouse
50 East Avenue, Suite 402
Rochester, New York 14604

Phone: (585) 530-3050

Syracuse Area

Stephen Clark, Principal Attorney in Charge

The Syracuse Building
224 Harrison Street, Suite 502
Syracuse, New York 13202-3066

Phone: (315) 401-3350

Utica Area

Stephen Clark, Principal Attorney in Charge

State Office Building
207 Genesee Street, 16th Floor
Utica, New York 13501-2876

Phone: (315) 266-4670

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