Problem Solving Justice: Developments in Treatment, Diversion, and Community Courts (FIELDWORK PRACTICUM)
Judge Demeo and Judge Rohr
J.D. Practicum 1183
| 4 credit hours
In fieldwork practicum courses, students participate in weekly seminars and conduct related fieldwork at outside organizations. This fieldwork practicum course will introduce students to the legal concepts, administrative and ethical challenges and public debates concerning this country's exponential growth of problem-solving courts and other collaborative adjudication models. Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and carry out 10 hours/week of fieldwork as Law Interns for a judge within the D.C. Superior Court.
SEMINAR: In the two-credit, graded, seminar portion of the practicum, students will learn about problem-solving adjudication through classroom debates, reading and reflection, independent research projects and presentations. State and some federal courts are reforming conventional courtrooms and designing specialty dockets to reduce recidivism and the impact behavioral health disorders, addiction and other daily challenges have on compliance with court orders. Although varying in their methodology, these courtrooms may place greater emphasis on results-driven proceedings, individually tailored sentencing, social service interventions, cross-agency partnerships and uniquely trained judicial officers. In addition to engaging the lively theoretical debate over the benefits and risks of modifying adversarial principles, this course will closely examine how problem solving courts look in practice. Some of the specialty courts operating in the District of Columbia include Juvenile Behavioral Diversion, Family Treatment, Adult Mental Health, Drug and Fathering Courts. Problem solving principles have also been incorporated within the Domestic Violence, Paternity and Child Support, Abuse and Neglect courts and DC’s Community Courts, or criminal courtrooms dedicated to adjudicating misdemeanor cases from designated neighborhood wards.
Although problem solving courts number in the thousands nationwide, their future is still undetermined as their methodologies, procedures and effectiveness are still under development. Students will have the rare opportunity to critically engage the tools of procedural justice and the experiences of attorneys in both conventional and reformed courtrooms in order to make their own conclusions as to the value of problem solving courts.
FIELDWORK: In the two-credit, mandatory pass-fail, fieldwork portion of the practicum, students will have the unique opportunity to work as Law Interns for Judges within the D.C. Superior Court. Students will be assigned to a variety of specialty and conventional courtrooms to support their administration and application of problem solving methodologies. Fieldwork placements will be determined at the start of the semester.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: The following learning objectives will be pursued within the seminar and reinforced through exposure to both problem-solving and conventional courtroom administration.
• Obtain familiarity with local court procedures, certain legal concepts, types of cases and methodology in assessing and reducing risk and recidivism
• Identify the common ethical issues both conventional courts and problem solving courts present for judges and attorneys
• Develop approaches for handling conflict, exercising creative problem solving skills and applying such skills in resource and time-limited circumstances
• Understand the symptoms and basic terminology of co-occurring disorders and describe the components of common mental health and addiction recovery systems and principles of effective treatment
• Gain competency in planning programmatic strategies, identifying and engaging justice system stakeholders and collecting and evaluating data
Prerequisites: Civil Procedure, Legal Practice: Writing and Analysis, Constitutional Law I, and Criminal Justice (or Democracy and Coercion) or Criminal Procedure. J.D. students must complete the required first-year program prior to enrolling in this course (part-time and interdivisional transfer students may enroll prior to completing Criminal Justice, Property, or their first-year elective).
Recommended: Prior or concurrent enrollment in Professional Responsibility, Negotiations or Mediations Seminar, Advanced Criminal Procedure, Decriminalizing Mental Illness, or Mental Health Issues in Criminal Law.
Students may not concurrently enroll in this practicum and an externship or a clinic or another practicum course. Students cannot participate in this practicum and concurrently participate in any clinics, externships or internships which may result in representation of clients with the D.C. Superior Court.
This practicum course is open to LL.M. students, space permitting. Interested LL.M. students should email Louis Fine (firstname.lastname@example.org) to request admission.
This course is suitable for evening students who can commit to regularly attending class and working 10 hours/week, during business hours, primarily on site at the D.C. Superior Court.
This is a four credit course. Two credits will be awarded for the two-hour weekly seminar and two credits for approximately 10 hours of supervised fieldwork work per week, for a minimum of 11 weeks, to be scheduled with the faculty. The fieldwork work must be completed during normal business hours. The two-credit seminar portion of this practicum will be graded. The two credits of fieldwork are mandatory pass/fail. Students will be allowed to take another course pass/fail in the same semester as the fieldwork.
Students who enroll in this course will be automatically enrolled in both the seminar and fieldwork components and may not take either component separately. After Add/Drop, a student who wishes to withdraw from a practicum course must obtain permission from the faculty member and the Assistant Dean for Experiential Education. The Assistant Dean will grant such withdrawal requests only when remaining enrolled in the practicum would cause significant hardship for the student. A student who is granted permission to withdraw will be withdrawn from both the seminar and fieldwork components.
Default attendance rule for all practicum courses (unless the professor indicates otherwise): Regular and punctual attendance is required at all practicum seminars and fieldwork placements. Students in project-based practicum courses are similarly required to devote the requisite number of hours to their project. If a student must miss seminar, fieldwork, or project work, he or she must speak to the professor as soon as possible to discuss the absence. Unless the professor indicates otherwise, a student with more than one unexcused absence from the practicum seminar (out of 13 total seminar sessions), or one week of unexcused absences from the fieldwork or project work (out of a total of 11 weeks of fieldwork or project work), may receive a lower grade or, at the professor’s discretion, may be withdrawn from the practicum course.
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