Scroll down for a range of TJ benchbooks, articles and other resources for judges.

WHAT IS TJ?

Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ) is a legal philosophy or “lens” for analysing the law and legal systems and developing justice innovations.

The use of the word “therapeutic” is often misunderstood.   TJ does not seek to turn judges into therapists, for courts to require people to do therapy.

The term “therapeutic” in TJ refers more broadly to improving psychological or behavioural health and wellbeing of people impacted by the law.  At its heart of wellbeing is the concept of human dignity.

In the criminal courts, these concepts are integral to supporting people’s rehabilitation as well as a shift to a better, more fulfilling life.   These concepts are also important for the healing of victims and communities that are harmed by offending.

TJ has underpinned the development of specialist or problem solving courts such as drug courts, mental health courts and family violence courts. TJ practices have also been used in mainstream courts and tribunals in a range of jurisdictions.

TJ is not only relevant to criminal law, TJ has also driven innovation in a range of other legal areas such as mental health law, family law, child neglect cases, environmental law, neighbourhood disputes and civil law.

Taking a TJ approach we ask:  How can our laws, legal processes and/or the roles of judges be changed to increase wellbeing?

It is important to note that TJ seeks to enhance the role of judges but it does not seek to usurp important legal norms such as due process, proportionality etc.  Judges still need to apply the law and legal norms however within these constraints the judge can perform their role in a way that maximises wellbeing.    TJ founders Bruce Winick and David Wexler described this as “judging in a therapeutic key”.   This might be as simple as ensuring a brief courtroom interaction is respectful or more a complex involvement of judicially supervised engagement in support services.

TJ is a multidisciplinary approach to the law.  When taking  a TJ approach, court processes, court programs and judges can draw on the social sciences – such as criminology, psychology, social work, alcohol and drug recovery and mental health recovery.   We can draw on these disciplines to inform how we can improve our legal systems, to make legal systems more focused on the humans who are affected by them – victims, offenders, litigants and communities.

Because TJ draws on other disciplines that are constantly evolving, TJ practices are also constantly evolving.

For an overview for key TJ practices click here.

And scroll below for a range of  TJ judging resources.

LEARNING MODULES

The TJ Court Craft Series:  A series of blogs for judicial officers who wish to explore how Therapeutic Jurisprudence approaches can improve their effectiveness in court.  Sign up for the TJ Court Craft Series by subscribing to this blog (Simply enter your email in the right hand margin and click “follow”).

Innovative Approaches to Justice – the Neighbourhood Justice Experience.

6 modules (with short videos) that discuss the types of approaches used at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (Melbourne Australia) and how these can be used in mainstream court settings.

TJ BENCH BOOKS FOR JUDGES

Michael S. King, Solution-Focused Judging Bench Book(2009) (Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration) A manual for Australian judges and magistrates but of use internationally.   This manual covers a range of judicial skills that can be applied in a mainstream courtroom.

Problem-solving in Canadian courtrooms:  A guide to therapeutic justice (2nd Edition, National Judicial Institute, Canada)     A manual for Canadian judges but for use internationally.  This handbook provides an introduction to problem-solving principles and practices, as well as practical suggestions and guidelines on how to incorporate them within and beyond the courtroom setting.

Effective Judging for Busy Judges(National Judicial College, USA)

Procedural Justice Tips – Centre for Court Innovation

Practical Considerations Related to Release and Sentencing for Defendants Who Have Behavioral Health Needs: A Judicial Guide and an accompanying bench card –  resources designed to assist judges in making informed connections to treatment for people who have behavioral health needs that enter their courts (Produced by the Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative (JPLI) of the Justice Centre of the US Council of State Governments)

Procedural Fairness – Tips for Judges

Procedural Fairness TED Talk by Judge Pratt

A technical assistance guide for drug court judges on drug treatment services, Bureau of Justice Assistance (USA)  While this guide was developed for drug court judges it has a lot a great information that would be of use to judges working with offenders who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol in the mainstream court setting

Trauma informed practice guide for judges

TJ VISION/POLICY STATEMENTS

Conference of Chief Justices/ Conference of State Court Administrators (USA) Resolution 22 and Resolution IV (2000) – In Support of Problem-Solving Courts Link here

Conference of Chief Justices/ Conference of State Court Administrators (USA) Resolution 22 (2004) – In support of Problem Solving Court Principles and Methods Link here

PRACTICAL TOOLS FOR JUDGES

Setting goals and strategies for rehabilitation – by Dr Michael King

Solution Focused Sentencing: Questions and Answers – by Greg Connellan (a questionnaire given by a magistrate to a defendant about to be sentenced). 

Leniency Questions Revised -by Paul A. Lacy (a questionnaire given by defense counsel to a defendant about to be sentenced).

BOOKS FOR JUDGES

Bruce J. Winick and David B. Wexler, Judging in a Therapeutic Key: Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Courts (2003). Digital version also available on Kindle.

Helen Mentha Someone Good to Talk To – a guide to motivational interviewing which is a technique that can assist judges who are undertaking judicial supervision or review hearings to have solution-focused “guiding conversations”.

RESOURCES FOR JUDICIAL SELF CARE/ WELLBEING

An Australian based resource for Judicial Stress and Wellbeing

OTHER RESOURCES FOR JUDGES

Collaborative justice resources for judges from the California Courts

National Centre for State Courts (USA) has a range of resources in a handy A-Z index

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