It is almost a year now since I have returned to the bench and have been the magistrate for the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. Yes, comprehensive law, therapeutic jurisprudence and non-adversarial justice have extended even to the remotest regions. My time for blogging has been limited, with the extensive circuit commitments that I have. But I have a short period now before I go on leave during which I can put thoughts to computer (and Internet).
About 8 months ago I made the transition from academia back to the bench. I had served on the bench of the Magistrates Court of Western Australia from 2000-2007, with my last 22 months as magistrate in the Perth Drug Court. While based at the Faculty of Law at Monash University, apart from my teaching activities I had been largely involved in research and writing. One of my publications was the Solution-Focused Judging Bench Book published by the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration and available online at: http://www.aija.org.au/Solution%20Focused%20BB/SFJ%20BB.pdf.
I remember the day I discovered the Law Review article by Stolle and Wexler.I had just become a Family Court Judge. I had as my vision that I could be the handmaiden of greater healing as a judge rather than as a lawyer.
The latter years of my divorce practice were esconced in high asset cases, surrounded by the wealthy who hungered for simple advice on values and spirit,wanting to be authentic in the face of the storm of dissent that only divorce can so beautifully unleash.
Try as I might, my clients would not turn to their churches, therapists,or other advisors but to me: for life instructions both for their divorce issues and for their futures.I had only success.My bills were paid,I received lavish gifts of jewelry and most importantly I received their love back.
I decided to focus mainly on judging panels today – except for a session on legal practice where I am a co-presenter. Our first speaker in the first judging session I attended today was Judge Ian Dearden from the District Court of Queensland. He outlined his extensive workload and his circuit work. Much of his work is criminal. He described some of the therapeutic jurisprudence techniques he applies in judging. He noted that he had only heard of TJ comparatively recently but then appreciated that some of the judging techniques he was already using were applied therapeutic jurisprudence.
He shared with us a number of his therapeutic judging techniques in csentencing. Here are some of the tips that Judge Dearden kindly shared with us. He aims to give comprehensive sentencing remarks to inform defendants (and others) of the reasons for the sentence.
Last night we had the conference dinner. It was held at the Melbourne Aquarium on the Yarra River in central Melbourne. On one side we could see the river and on the other a large aquarium full of beautiful fish. At least we were not located near a shark tank! The President of the Court of Appeal of Victoria gave an interesting and entertaining after dinner speech, talking, amongst other things, about the role of therapeutic jurisprudence in an appeal court.
It is now day 2 of the conference. I will again blog the day. As with yesterday’s blog, here is my exclusion clause: what follows is a selection of thoughts and impressions rather than a comprehensive coverage of what each speaker says.
It is finally here – the first day of the sessions of the Non-Adversarial Justice: Implications for the Legal System and Society conference in Melbourne, Australia. After well over a year of work and planning for the conference we will see how it all turns out. It is exciting – seeing old friends from around the world, meeting new ones. Last night the Chief Magistrate of Victoria hosted a welcome reception, which was a wonderful event. It was good to be in the same room as so many people committed to more humane, psychologically optimal, comprehensive and inclusive approaches to resolving conflict. Leading lights in therapeutic jurisprudence, restorative justice, problem-solving courts, preventive law, ADR and holistic law are present. The possibility for cross-fertilisation is a wonderful opportunity in such a conference.
David Yamada of Suffolk University Law School has recently posted a thoughtful and stimulating article to SSRN. It bears the title "Therapeutic Jurisprudence and the Practice of Legal Scholarship". The article is to be published in the University of Memphis Law Review. The article makes a novel, creative and important contribution to the expansion of TJ scholarship – examining how a TJ analysis can improve legal scholarship and at the same time promote a more rewarding experience for those involved in it.
I do not intend to repeat the contents of the article – I encourage you to read it in full. What follows are a few observations and some highlights from the article.
Bushfires are a regular part of the Australian landscape. Similar fires are also a feature of other areas of the world – such as California and some countries bordering on the Mediterranean Sea.
As some of the contributors to different vectors of the comprehensive law movement or non-adversarial justice – such as Peggy Hora, David Wexler, Bruce Winick and Victorian Deputy Chief Magistrate Jelena Popovic have observed – judging in a problem-solving court is significantly different from conventional judging. It is little wonder that mainstream legal education, legal practice and judicial education have hitherto largely not properly prepared judicial officers for this form of judging.
Monash Law Faculty has just had the pleasure of hosting a visit by Peggy Fulton Hora to Melbourne. It is not the best time of the year to be in Melbourne – it is winter and we sent her off last night with the wind building pace and a huge storm imminent. Being originally from Perth, I shall be glad when the cold weather comes to an end.