Problem-Solving Courts: Stretching the Notion of Adjudication

Chrysanthi S. Leon, University of California - Berkeley

I examine the emergence of problem-solving courts and their implications for our notion of adjudication. I review the ways that problem solving courts frame the 'problems' they aim to address, the strategies they employ, and their ways of knowing and acting on their subjects. I focus primarily on drug courts but also include discussion of other examples--including domestic violence courts and courts organized around restorative justice--in order to emphasize the perceived emergence of a new approach to judging. My paper augments Candace McCoy's intellectual history of therapeutic courts and her analysis of the ramifications of their institutionalization. I conclude by discussing the aspects of adjudication that problem-solving courts emphasize, as well as the benefits and pitfalls of adapting our adjudicative model to the problem-solving approach.

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Updated 05/20/2006