Rosie D.
Reforming the Mental Health System in Massachusetts

Our Team

The Rosie D. plaintiffs are represented by attorneys and advocates from the Center for Public Representation (the Center), Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP (WilmerHale), and the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee (MHLAC).   Consistent with their commitment to community integration and equal opportunity, the Center, WilmerHale, and MHLAC filed the Rosie D. lawsuit on behalf of as many as 50,000 Medicaid-eligible children in Massachusetts with serious emotional disturbance.  The Rosie D. decision ushered a new day for these vulnerable children, and led to the development of the Remedial Plan, which represents an exceptional opportunity to rectify systemic violations and restructure the children’s mental health system in Massachusetts.


The Center for Public Representation


The Center is a public interest law firm that has been advocating for persons with disabilities in institutions and community settings for more than 37 years.  Combining litigation, policy analysis and legislative advocacy, the Center engages in systemic reform initiatives to ensure quality, to promote choice, and to facilitate access to community opportunities for people with disabilities.


Children with psychiatric disabilities are among the Center’s highest priorities.  For several years, the Center’s children’s mental health project has provided individual advocacy and representation to children and families throughout the state to help them obtain needed services so they can remain in their homes and home communities.


The Center’s executive director, Steven Schwartz; assistant director, Cathy Costanzo; staff attorney, Kathryn Rucker; and litigation paralegal, Marcia Boundy, participated on the legal team for the plaintiff class.   The Center is responsible for maintaining the Rosie D. website.  For more information about the Center, please see


Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, LLP


WilmerHale is major law firm with offices in eleven cities throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.  Long recognized as a leader in pro bono representation, WilmerHale embodies “legal excellence, dedication to clients and a commitment to public service.”  The Massachusetts Bar Association selected WilmerHale as the 2006 Law Firm Pro Bono Award recipient for its work on behalf of Guantanamo detainees from Bosnia and its representation of the plaintiffs in the Rosie D. case.


Members of the Rosie D. legal team included James C. Burling, partner; James W. Prendergast, partner; Christopher B. Zimmerman, associate; and Janet Rountree, senior paralegal.  For more information about the firm, please see


The Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee


The Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee (MHLAC) was established by the Massachusetts legislature in 1973 “to secure and protect the legal rights of persons involved in mental health and retardation programs in the Commonwealth.”  The Committee is comprised of fourteen judges and lawyers who are knowledgeable about mental health law.  MHLAC’s mission is to ensure the rights of persons with psychiatric disabilities are protected and enforced.  MHLAC’s executive director, Frank Laski, participates on the Rosie D. legal team. For more information about MHLAC, please see 


The Center’s Litigation Team

Steven J. Schwartz, Executive Director


Steven J. Schwartz began practicing mental disability law in 1971. He has extensive experience litigating class action cases challenging issues related to the institutional confinement and community integration of persons with disabilities, and has successfully resolved a number of damage cases for individuals with disabilities. Mr. Schwartz has authored a number of law review articles, testified before Congress on P&A authorizing legislation and abuse and neglect issues, and served on the faculty of the Harvard and Western New England Law Schools.  


Cathy Costanzo, Assistant Director


Cathy Costanzo has worked in the mental disability law field since 1977 and has extensive experience in providing representation to institutionalized persons throughout the country. She is the former director of the Massachusetts PAIMI Project and the former chair of NDRN's Legal Committee. Ms. Costanzo is co-counsel in a number of class action cases in New Mexico, Massachusetts, Washington DC, and Arizona which seek to promote the integration and to expand the rights of persons with psychiatric and developmental disabilities. She has directed the Center's restraint and seclusion project, its death watch project, and its multi-state initiative on challenging the use of aversive punishment on persons with developmental disabilities.


Kathryn Rucker, Staff Attorney


Kathryn Rucker is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law, and has been working with the Center since August 1999.  Ms. Rucker's coordinates the Center’s Children’s Mental Health Advocacy Project.  Her individual representation and systemic reform advocacy focus on serving individuals with serious mental illness in hospital and community residential settings. She is also co-counsel in several of the Center's class action lawsuits.


Marcia Boundy, Senior Paralegal

Marcia Boundy joined the Center in 2000.  She is the Center’s senior litigation paralegal and development director.  She provides assistance on several large class action cases in Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, as well as advocating for individuals who seek improved disability support services.


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