A Different Kind of Law - Holistic Justice for the Mentally Ill


Melissa McRoy Shearer, Director

910 Lavaca St
Austin, TX 78701

Phone: (512) 854-3030
Fax: (512) 854-3037

Program Description

The Travis County Mental Health Public Defender (MHPD) Office began in April 2007 to serve the needs of persons with mental illness in the criminal justice system. Our staff includes a director, three full time attorneys, three social workers, four caseworkers, and three support staff.

The social and case workers are also available to assist private court appointed attorneys. Referrals are made for a variety of social services. Follow-up case management services are also provided.

Referral Procedures

Cases are primarily referred to the MHPD through Travis County Court Administration. Referrals are also made by judges, attorneys, pre-trial services or mental health advocacy groups.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Charges: Class A/B misdemeanor, state jail or 3rd degree felony
  • Indigent: Qualifies for court appointed counsel under the Travis County Indigent Defense Plan
  • Experiencing significant challenges due to mental health, intellectual, or developmental disabilities

The Travis County Mental Health Public Defender office is operated in connection with Travis County Justice Planning.


Mental Health Public Defender's Legal Team
From upper left clockwise: Ryan Cooper - JD, Attorney; Sam Woodburn-Henry -JD, Attorney; Melissa McRoy Shearer - JD, LBSW, Director; Amanda Austin - JD, Attorney

admin team

Mental Health Public Defender's Admin Team
From left to right: Larissa Wolcott - Administrative Assistant I; Antonia Blasini - Administrative Associate; Laura Mercado - Legal Secretary

management team

Mental Health Public Defender's Case Management Team
From left to right: Karen Hunt - Case Worker; Anthony Macias - Case Worker; Marilyn Kyere - Case Worker; Stephanie Doyle - LMSW MA, Case Management Coordinator; Becca Hyatt - LMSW, Social Worker; Randy Webster - Case Worker