Training the Judiciary on Mental Illness

Summary of Panel Presentation

Far too many people with mental illnesses become entangled with the criminal justice system. A study by the Federal Department of Justice found that 16% of jail and prison inmates nationwide have a mental illness. In October of 2010 New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Rabner convened a committee to review existing services and programs and to develop advice on how to improve the Courts’ response to individuals with a serious mental illness. This panel made up of members of that committee discussed their report’s recommendations and presented a way forward for developing more effective responses to people with mental illness who come into contact with the criminal justice system.



Anthony P Kearns_smallAnthony P. Kearns, III, Former Prosecutor, Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office graduated, Cum Laude, from Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts in 1998, after previously receiving a Master of Science Degree in Counseling from Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland. Prior to that, he graduated, Cum Laude, with a double major in Psychology and Spanish from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Mr. Kearns distinguished himself as Deputy Attorney General for the State of New Jersey. As Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Kearns served as prosecutor for the Division of Consumer Affairs and focused on professional board matters.

In private practice, Mr. Kearns focused on Criminal, Family, and Land Use Law. He is a trained mediator and has been certified as a collaborative law attorney. He served as attorney for Alexandria Township Board of Adjustment and the Joint Planning Board/Board of Adjustment for Stockton Borough.

In August of 2010, Anthony Kearns was nominated by Governor Chris Christie to become the Hunterdon County Prosecutor and was unanimously confirmed by the New Jersey Senate in November 2010. As Prosecutor, Mr. Kearns announced the launching of Hunterdon County’s Law Enforcement Adolescent Program (L.E.A.P.), which is an early youth intervention program that will serve as a diversion from the legal system and help young offenders and their families receive the necessary services to help avoid further entanglement in the criminal justice system. He is a proud sponsor of the Faith Based Committee who meet on a regular basis in his office with the purpose of developing a collaborative network of faith-based organizations to speak with “one voice” on issues of concern throughout Hunterdon. He has worked with county-based organizations including Hunterdon Prevention Resources, Hunterdon Drug Awareness, Hunterdon Safe Coalition and the Hunterdon Hispanos to encourage and support the prevention of substance abuse and other preventative and educational programs. Mr. Kearns recently worked on several statewide committees, including being appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court Mental Health Committee by Chief Justice Rabner.

Mr. Kearns served as the President of the Hunterdon County Bar Association. He is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association and serves on the special committee for Drug and Alcohol abuse.

Mr. Kearns is trained as a family, adolescent and individual therapist. He is also trained as a substance abuse therapist and has counseled both men and women ensnared in the cycle of domestic violence.

Theodore J Romankow_smallTheodore J. Romankow is currently Counsel to the Firm, Javerbaum, Wurgaft, Hicks, Kahn, Wikstrom, & Sinons P. C. where he practices criminal law and general litigation. He was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. District Court of New Jersey. He is a member and former President of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey and the National District Attorneys Association.

He is the Former Prosecutor at the Union County Prosecutor’s Office from 2002 – 2013. He focused on intelligence-based law enforcement and oversaw the creation of the Gangs, Guns, Drugs & Violent Crimes Task Force. He created a mental health unit designed to divert certain non-violent defendants from the criminal justice system and was instrumental in assisting the Union County Superior Court in creating a mental health court.

He was a partner at Garrubbo & Romankow from 1987-2002 and of Hehl, Romankow, Taub & Wilde from 1972 – 1986, where he practiced civil & criminal litigation. Prior to that he was the Assistant Deputy Public Defender for the Union County Public Defender’s Office from 1968 – 1971, where he represented and provided legal counsel for indigent criminal defendants.

Phil_smallPhilip Lubitz, M.S.W. is the Associate Director of NAMI NJ where he is responsible for advocacy programs and law enforcement education. He has more than 30 years of experience in the public mental health system as a therapist, administrator and family advocate. He has served as the New Jersey Family Support Coordinator for 15 years and is responsible for adopting the State Family Support Plan for Persons with a Serious Mental Illness under P.L. 1995, c314 a law he helped to write. He is currently the Chair of the New Jersey Mental Health Planning Council. He was awarded the Senator Paul Wellstone award for Mental Health Advocacy by the NJAMHA and The Governor Richard J. Codey mental Health Champion Award from NAMI New Jersey. He received a BA from the George Washington University and a Masters in Social Work from the Rutgers School of Social Work.


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