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For the past 35 years I have been practicing in, teaching, and writing about the Family Court. The problem-solving court movement in the last two decades – with its proliferation of drug courts, mental health courts, and veterans courts, to name a few – renewed my interest in the historical roots of the family court because of the parallels between the original juvenile court and the recent problem solving court movement. One of the key elements – perhaps the defining element – in both is the role of the judge as the leader of the court. That is what I want to focus on today. I’ve called this talk a cautionary tale; what I mean is that the idea of judicial leadership as it developed in the juvenile and family court historically, and as it is still being applied in those courts and in the newer problem solving courts today, is based on an idealized conception of the judge that has never been true and is unlikely ever to be true. Consequently, building a court around this idealized notion of the judicial leader is a dangerous proposition.


Jurisprudence | Juvenile Law | Law