Attorney Iris Eytan highlights man’s plight in U.S. District Court

Why Mentally Ill Colorado Man Has Spent Eight Months in Jail for Spitting

Oct 5, 2018

A mentally ill Colorado man has been in jail since February because he spit on a police officer. As a result, he hasn’t received restorative treatment for his condition in eight months, with no end in sight.

Attorney Iris Eytan highlighted the man’s plight during a September 28 hearing in U.S. District Court over a lawsuit filed against Reggie Bicha, the Colorado Department of Human Services’ executive director, and Ronald Hale, superintendent of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, over what has become the routine warehousing of untreated mentally ill individuals in local jails for months.

In response, Eytan says the deputy attorney general representing Bicha’s department “asserted that pointing this out wasn’t relevant, because the hearing was really about the contract we’d signed and the meaning of it, not the actual people who are suffering because of what we feel is breach of contract.”

She adds that, in her view, Magistrate Judge Nina Y. Wang, who’s overseeing the case, “seemed flabbergasted” by this argument — and that could bode well for Disability Law Colorado, the organization Eytan represents through her firm, Eytan Nielsen LLC, which has been fighting the state for a decade over its policies in regard to inmates with mental illness.

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