Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Treatment Courts

It has been around long enough that "drug court" is just an accepted part of the criminal justice system. Nonviolent offenders with substance abuse issues are given an opportunity to avoid incarceration by completing a rigorous combination of counseling, treatment, staying out of further trouble, etc.

Jamestown unveiled the newest local treatment court on Monday, the Mental Health Court. The basic idea is quite similar: a reduction in the prison population and a more effective rehabilitation for people whose criminal acts are part of a larger problem. The goal, in the Jamestown Lawyer's understanding, is to deal with the underlying issue, preventing recidivism and getting the defendant necessary help. The Post-Journal coverage is linked here. (With one correction: the attorney on the right in the photo is "Robert Liebers" of Burgett & Robbins, not "Jeff".)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Something Positive

Well, the Jamestown Lawyer doesn't know how she does, but at least it's a non-critical post regarding Justice Courts.

Town of Ellicott Judge Marilyn Gerace will be on Wheel of Fortune tonight, November 16, locally at 7pm on the ABC affiliate. The Post-Journal story is here.

If the WGA strike continues and the networks are looking for more reality programming, I'd like to suggest bringing Judge Gerace back for "Wheel of Justice"....I don't know what it will be about, but the Jamestown Lawyer likes the title too much to let it go. That's about as much thought as the average producer puts into a show, in my opinion.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


A brief post. No guarantees any more will follow it.

There is an effort underway to improve the Justice Court system. Judicial districts are hiring persons, preferably former Justice Court judges, to serve as resources on administrative and legal issues.

My thought: that won't be enough. There's a certain attraction to the tradition of local lay judges that know the community and dispense a common-sense justice. There, to me, is even more attraction to courts that are open regular hours and staffed by professional persons.

Perhaps one of the changes required of the Justice Courts should be like the policy when I was a college instructor: mandatory office hours. On one day, at least two days from the weekly court day, the judge or clerk must be in the office. If nothing else, it's a time to do paperwork. It is somehow sublimely ridiculous that we have courts that are "open" at the discretion of a judge, who shows up to do everything from reading the mail to hearing cases one evening a week, then puts it on the back burner until that next evening appearance. Justice and Monday Night Football should not have the same schedule.