Michael L. Perlin is Professor of Law Emeritus at New York Law School (NYLS), founding director of NYLS’s Online Mental Disability Law Program, and founding director of NYLS’s International Mental Disability Law Reform Project in its Justice Action Center. He is also the co-founder of Mental Disability Law and Policy Associates.
Before becoming a professor, Perlin was the Deputy Public Defender in charge of the Mercer County Trial Region in New Jersey, and, for eight years, was the director of the Division of Mental Health Advocacy in the NJ Department of the Public Advocate. He has represented thousands of persons with mental disabilities in individual and class actions at every court level from police court to the US Supreme Court, and has taught and worked with advocacy projects on every continent. He is also co-chair of the Disability Rights Interest Group of the American Society of International Law.
He has written 31 books and nearly 300 articles on all aspects of mental disability law. His most recent books are Sexuality, Disability and the Law: Beyond the Last Frontier? (co-authored with Alison J. Lynch, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), Mental Disability and the Death Penalty: The Shame of the States (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013), and A Prescription for Dignity: Rethinking Criminal Justice and Mental Disability Law (Ashgate, 2013). The third edition of his treatise, Mental Disability Law: Civil and Criminal, universally seen as the standard text in the area (co-authored with Prof. Heather Ellis Cucolo), was published earlier this year (Lexis-Nexis Press). Also forthcoming this year is a book on sex offender law, Shaming the Constitution: The Detrimental Results of Sexual Violent Predator Legislation (co-authored with Cucolo, Temple University Press). An earlier book, The Jurisprudence of the Insanity Defense (Carolina Academic Press, 1995) won the Manfred Guttmacher Award of the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law as the best book published that year.
His hobbies include fishing, birding, playing the clarinet, opera, and the music of Bob Dylan. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington Crossing Audubon Society in New Jersey.