Families speak in support of 'Joel's Law' advocating judicial review of mental health cases

SEATTLE (AP) — A series of family members choked back tears as they urged lawmakers pass a bill to remove what they say are roadblocks to getting treatment for mentally ill people in crisis.

They spoke Monday in Olympia in support of Sen. Steve O'Ban's bill that he is calling "Joel's Law."

The measure was named for Joel Reuter. He was suicidal when he was fatally shot in 2013 by Seattle police.

The measure would let families ask a judge to review cases whenever a designated mental health profession decides against detaining someone who is a danger to themselves or others.

The families testified that too often, those mental health professionals fail to see the crisis situation, and that failure has resulted in deaths.

The ACLU and the public defender's office testified against the bill. They say the problem lies with a lack of state funding for mental health issues.