Michael King's blog
A key contribution made by therapeutic jurisprudence in its
application to judging drug courts, family violence courts, mental
health courts and the like is to highlight the importance of
interpersonal skills. Other, independent developments in judging have
also shown that interpersonal skills are important in judging. One
example is the introduction of equal opportunity bench books and the
conduct of judicial education programs to inform the judiciary of the
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.
Professor Arie Freiberg recently posted an important new contribution to SSRN. It is available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1722388. It is the RG Meyers Memorial Lecture for 2010. The RG Meyer Memorial lectures are organised by the Australian and New Zealand Association of Psychiatry, Psychology and Law (ANZAPPL).
Empowerment has been a central theme in my thinking and practice in relation to non-adversarial justice and therapeutic jurisprudence in recent years. Empowerment is a central theme of many of the vectors of the comprehensive law movement or non-adversarial justice. For example, restorative justice, therapeutic jurisprudence, creative problem solving, Indigenous sentencing courts, forms of ADR such as facilitative mediation and holistic law all highlight the value of empowerment in various contexts. Arguably one vector where it has not gained great prominence is problem solving courts. I will return to this shortly.
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.