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Judges will have to rethink their roles if they expect to play a role in innovative courts with new approaches, concluded a panel of veteran jurists who spoke at an American Bar Association program yesterday in New York City. In her introductory remarks at the discussion which took place at Midtown Community Court, New York Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye declared that new specialized courts, such as those concentrating on domestic violence, drug cases and community infractions, impose new demands upon lawyers and judges. Those courts, she said, may also make the relationship between the prosecution and the defense less adversarial. All the participants are working toward “common goals” of solving underlying problems and changing the behavior of litigants, she said. On a similar note, following a speech Saturday, as part of the ABA annual meeting, on the role of the legal profession in fighting drug abuse, retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, said that the key to success for hundreds of drug courts around the country — as well as to Judge Kaye’s newly announced statewide drug treatment program for nonviolent criminals — is trusting and training jurists to make decisions that are tough on crime and, at the same time, treatment-oriented. “� [I]t has to work with jurists selected at random. So we need training systems, and oversight � The drug court system could crash on us if we don’t watch it during its development,” he said in an interview with the New York Law Journal. At the Midtown Court program, Justice John Leventhal of the Brooklyn Domestic Violence Court said there is an “emotional price to pay” for judges who work in domestic violence court parts. Justice Jo Ann Ferdinand, who presides in the Brooklyn Treatment Court, added that sitting on the bench in a drug court requires a willingness to work as a team and to “allow others to play a substantial part in the process.” This change in approach should make it easier for treatment providers and defense attorneys to trust that the courts are working to help clients who have drug problems, she added. ALTERING BEHAVIOR Panelists agreed, however, that the primary goal of the courts is to alter the behavior of defendants. This can be especially hard when they have committed minor crimes and cannot be ordered into prolonged treatment, or when they fail court-mandated drug tests. Another panelist, Judge Eileen Koretz, said that frequently she has only enough leverage to sentence defendants who commit misdemeanors and violations to a four-day treatment readiness program or to two days of job training. She added that it is up to court staff administering the programs to convince defendants to make prolonged use of on-site services voluntarily after they have completed their sentences. Judge Koretz went on to say that the Midtown Community Court can best serve a defendant with a long history of misdemeanor convictions who can be required to complete a year of treatment. PROBLEMS EXPECTED According to General McCaffrey, “a chronic addict, once in the drug court system, will for sure have problems.” He said that the best way to treat an addict who flunks a drug test administered by the court is not to put him in jail for his entire suspended sentence. “Maybe 21 days behind bars, then back in a treatment program. A year later, if rearrested, maybe he’ll get into maintained recovery.” He admitted that court-mandated treatment is not ideal. “The point is,” he said, “the other way doesn’t work at all.” Visit Law.com’s ABA 2000 Convention Coverage

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