Book Review, Judging in a Therapeutic Key: Therapeutic Jurisprudence & the Courts

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Journal of Legal Medicine

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"Therapeutic jurisprudence” (TJ) represents a shift in perspective on the role of law and courts in our society. This book is a collection of thought-provoking essays that illustrates this shift, often through the various authors' descriptions of the roles of judges and litigants in our legal system. These authors -- many of whom are judges -- do not promote the traditional view of the judge as just a neutral arbiter of cases who is uninvolved in the conflict before her, or as only an adjudicator of historical facts who chooses between two conflicting positions to determine a winner and a loser, or as simply the final decision-maker who renders judgment in one case and moves on to the next case without looking back. Instead, they depict the judge as a “coach,” a “member of the treatment team,” a “case manager” or a “risk manager,” and a “leading actor in the therapeutic drama” of the courtroom. Judges are described as “listeners, translators, educators, and if possible, facilitators,” and above all, as versatile “problem-solvers” who craft solutions to the underlying social and behavioral problems that gave rise to the cases before her. * Are judges being encouraged to stray too far from their traditional roles in the recently emerging problem-solving courts? Some may think so. An alternative view is that this new book and the movement it promotes challenge judges to act like decent human beings who genuinely care about the citizens who appear before them, about their victims, about their families, and about their communities. Judges wield enormous power -- both overtly and in subtle psychological ways -- and TJ encourages them to use the power and prestige of their office responsibly and in the best interests of the parties as well as the public. The authors assembled in this worthy volume believe strongly in the law's potential to serve as a “healing agent” and seek to cast judges and lawyers in the roles of peacemakers and creative problem-solvers. Their vision deserves our serious consideration.


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Recommended Citation

Charity Scott, Book Review, 25 J. Legal Med. 377 (2004) (reviewing Bruce J. Winick & David B. Wexler, Judging in a Therapeutic Key: Therapeutic Jurisprudence & the Courts (2003)).







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