California: Psych Board Blasted by Judge

Janet Phelan
Activist Post

In a startling reversal of fortune, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled last Friday to stay the revocation of activist psychologist Dr. Robert Fettgather’s license to practice psychology.

Dr. Fettgather’s license had been ordered revoked in May after he refused to submit to a psychiatric examination ordered by the California State Psychology Board. The revocation was set to come into force on July 27. The stay grants Dr. Fettgather permission to work as a licensed psychologist until the writ can be heard requesting the Board’s decision be entirely overturned.

Blasting the Psychology Board for launching an action against Fettgather without justification, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley declared that the Board lacked good cause to compel him into a psychiatric evaluation. Judge Frawley also raised concerns that the Administrative Law court further denied Fettgather’s right to due process in refusing to hear any evidence from Fettgather. According to Fettgather’s attorney, Dr. Bruce Ebert, Frawley also raised questions as to the cavalier manner in which the Psychology Board had attempted to force Fettgather into a psychiatric exam.

In an interview July 30, Ebert stated, “If there was any part of government that should understand the seriousness of ordering someone to undergo a forced psychiatric exam it should be the Board which regulates the practice of psychology.” Ebert went on to say, “We all need to be concerned when psychiatry is used as a weapon rather than as a tool for mental health.”

Fettgather had run into difficulties last year when his advocacy for his disabled son, David, who is under a conservatorship and held in custodial care, raised the ire of a State Assemblyman. Doctor Fettgather had spoken at a Town Hall meeting and criticized Assemblyman Jim Beall for failure to follow through on the plight of David. Assemblyman Beall then made a report to the Dignitaries Protection Unit of the California Highway Patrol, alleging that Fettgather had threatened him. The report was investigated and considered to be of no merit, according to the CHP. However, shortly thereafter the State Psychology Board contacted Dr. Fettgather and stated that they were investigating him.

Fettgather has a long history of advocacy for the disabled and mentally ill, going back to the 1970s.

Housed in the Department of Consumer Affairs, the State Psychology Board is mandated to investigate consumer complaints. However, there were no consumer complaints made against Dr. Fettgather and the Board proceeded with complaints tendered by former employees of Dr. Fettgather who were apparently disgruntled at the termination of their employment.

Ebert has called this a victory not only for Dr. Fettgather but also for the Constitution. Ebert, who has a PhD in psychology and is a four-term former president of the State Psychology Board, said “Dr. Fettgather is a good man and a good psychologist.”

Russ Heimerich, the spokesperson for the Department of Consumer Affairs, issued a terse “no comment.” The press office for the California Department of Justice, which prosecuted this matter, claimed that the AG was only representing its client—the Psychology Board– according to the client’s wishes.

The California Medical Board was contacted for comment on allegations that this Board has also issued an Administrative subpoena for Dr. Ebert to be psychologically evaluated. Laura Sweet, who allegedly signed the subpoena, has declined to comment, citing privacy laws.

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Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international bioweapons treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad.  You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at

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