Judge Jamey Hueston (Retired) writes…

On any given day, in courtrooms across the world, judges witness the unfortunate consequences of drug abuse reflected by some offenders who are in court “nodding out” from a “heroin high” while waiting for their cases to be called. A steady stream of people with untreated mental-health issues also enter courtrooms, often displaying oppositional attitudes, disruptive behavior, and cognitive dis-abilities.

Judges are understandably frustrated with the justice system’s revolving door in which these offenders continuously rotate and with a system that cannot adequately address the numerous complex issues, insufficient life skills, and collateral problems that contribute to drug abuse or help users navigate to recovery.

These individuals and problems are not the sole domain of the criminal-justice system and, unfortunately, are represented equally in civil and other non-criminal matters—just in another context.

The lessons we have learned and skills we have developed serving as drug-court judges are powerful, and provide cogent strategies for dealing with traditional court litigants in the variety of criminal and civil matters that “full service” trial judges handle.

In our article “Exporting Drug-Court Concepts to Traditional Courts: A Roadmap to an Effective Therapeutic Court” Judge Kevin Burke and I describe the drug-court-employed options and strategies used effectively to address drug use and associated mental-health conditions—approaches that promote healing and rehabilitation with substantially better results than those achieved by traditional punitive methods.

This article also offers a road map for applying successful drug-court techniques, available to all judges in traditional court settings—techniques that will widen a judge’s repertoire of judicial skills.

Judge Jamey Hueston is a founding member and former judge-in-charge of the Baltimore City Drug Court for 20 years. She also founded and chaired the Maryland Office of Problem Solving Courts, one of the first state-wide drug court oversight offices in the country. She is a pioneer founder of the National Association of Drug Court Professional and recent vice-president. She created the drug court meditation component in the Baltimore City DTC and  lectures regarding meditation and compassion practices.

Judge Kevin Burke has been a Minneapolis trial judge since 1984. He established the first drug court in the state of Minnesota. He served several terms as chief judge of the Hennepin County District Court in Minnesota, a 62-judge court, where he instituted social-science studies examining—and reforms improving—procedural fairness. Burke coauthored the American Judges Association’s white paper on procedural fairness in 2007. Since then, he and coauthor Kansas Judge Steve Leben have made invited presentations on procedural fairness to more than 3,000 state and federal judges. He is a recipient of the William Rehnquist Award. In 2004, the magazine Governing named him Public Official of the Year

Link to the full article: http://aja.ncsc.dni.us/publications/courtrv/cr52-1/CR52-1AHueston.pdf

Link to more resources for judges wishing to explore how a therapeutic jurisprudence approach can improve the effectiveness of rehabilitation.

Link here to more of the TJ Court Craft Series for judges. The TJ Court Craft Series provides practical insights and tools for judges interested in therapeutic jurisprudence, problem solving or solution-focused approaches.  To subscribe to the Series simply enter your email in the right hand margin of this website and click “follow”.


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