Event Details

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

How to Avoid IAC Claims.

This hybrid seminar will present an actual case study from Sonoma County. 

"The proper question is whether a defendant can distinguish, not the legal rightness or wrongness of his act, but it’s moral rightness or wrongness."  (People v. Stress (1988) 205 Cal. App. 3d 1259, 1274.) 

  • Mr. Rubenstein will cover the initial stages of case work up, and selection of appropriate experts.
  • Acquisition of relevant medical and mental health records. Interview of family and collection of behaviors not necessarily in medical records. Interpretation of records with (if needed) expert review. Financial considerations for the proper funding of the case. 
  • Dr. Piasecki will discuss the psychiatric review process given the medical standards for possible determination of Insanity.
  • Ms. Hillberg will discuss the legal structure of a NGI plea given the two stage trial format. She will present the legal standard for NGI and review appellate issues in order to avoid IAC. 
  • The panel will also discuss implicit biases that surround mental illness. 


*All registrations are assumed to be remote unless otherwise stated. To reserve your seat for the in-person option, please contact Ann Horn at Ann@SonomaCountyBar.org or (707) 542-1190 ext. 100 to transfer your remote registration to in-person. 
For the comfort of our guests, a limited number of in-person seats are available. If you wish to attend in-person, we suggest notifying our office at your earliest convenience to reserve your seat. Walk-ins will be admitted as space allows. In-person registrations expire at the start of the presentation. We do ask that you arrive promptly; otherwise your reserved seat may be given to a walk-in attendee. In-person reservations are non-refundable unless cancelled prior to 3 pm one business day prior to the presentation.
In-person will be at SCBA's new office location: 
3035 Cleveland Ave., Ste. 205
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

If you need assistance registering for this program, please email Reception@SonomaCountyBar.org and we will assist you as soon as possible.

Thank you.


Marylou Hillberg photo

Marylou Hillberg
Law Office of Marylou E. Hillberg

    Marylou Hillberg has practiced criminal law in Sonoma County since 1980 after graduating from Hastings College of the Law.  Until the mid-1990s she focused on trial work as a criminal defense attorney in Sonoma County Courts, but also worked as a panel attorney for the First and Sixth District Courts of Appeal.  Her primary interest has always been the intersection of mental health and criminal law.  After the advent of the Three Strikes law, she was recruited to work in the Second District Court of Appeal, which coincided with the ever-increasing challenges of parenting a son with profound autism, and limited her practice to post-conviction work.
    In these past years she has been on the capital habeas panel with the California Appellate Project and completed two capital habeas petitions, both dealing with mental health issues.  In one capital case, she was fortunate enough to work with Dr. Piasecki as one of her experts.  Additionally, Ms. Hillberg was on the non-capital habeas panel as a Criminal Justice Act attorney for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California and worked with Dr. Piasecki on a non-capital habeas.  
    Ms. Hillberg has actively sought out mental health cases with all these panels and not had many other attorneys who fought her for these cases.  Also, her experience with her son has educated her on Adkins claims, and she’s attended hundreds of hours of continuing education on these issues.

Melissa Piasecki, M.D. photo

Melissa Piasecki, M.D.
Acting Dean & Professor of Psychiatry
University of Nevada, Reno School Medicine

Melissa Piasecki, M.D. is a forensic psychiatrist and is currently Acting Dean and Professor of Psychiatry at University of Nevada, Reno School Medicine.  She is also faculty at the National Judicial College and National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges. She applies her training and expertise in Forensic Psychiatry to civil and criminal matters and is a consultant to courts, attorneys, licensing boards and the Department of Justice.  Melissa is board certified in forensic psychiatry and holds a medical license in Nevada, California and Hawaii.

Walter Rubenstein photo

Walter Rubenstein JD , PhD.
Law Offices of Walter Rubenstein

Mr. Rubenstein is the criminal law section representative for the Sonoma County Bar Association (SCBA ) He also serves on the education committee and the Judicial Review committee. He has practiced criminal law for thirty years in the north bay. 

Lawyer Referral Service

SCBA can help you find the right lawyer to assist you with your legal issues.
Contact Win Rogers by email or call her at (707) 546-5297 for a referral.