Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing: The International Problem-Solving Court Movement

Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing: The International Problem-Solving Court Movement

Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing: The International Problem-Solving Court Movement

Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing: The International Problem-Solving Court Movement

Synopsis

A wide variety of problem-solving courts have been developed in the United States over the past two decades and are now being adopted in countries around the world. These innovative courts--including drug courts, community courts, domestic violence courts, and mental health courts--do not simply adjudicate offenders. Rather, they attempt to solve the problems underlying such criminal behaviors as petty theft, prostitution, and drug offenses. Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing is a study of the international problem-solving court movement and the first comparative analysis of the development of these courts in the United States and the other countries where the movement is most advanced: England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. Looking at the various ways in which problem-solving courts have been taken up in these countries, James Nolan finds that while importers often see themselves as adapting the American courts to suit local conditions, they may actually be taking in more aspects of American law and culture than they realize or desire. In the countries that adopt them, problem-solving courts may in fact fundamentally challenge traditional ideas about justice. Based on ethnographic research in all six countries, the book examines these cases of legal borrowing for what they reveal about legal and cultural differences, the inextricable tie between law and culture, the processes of globalization, the unique but contested global role of the United States, and the changing face of law and justice around the world.

Excerpt

On a drizzly December morning in 1992, a fourth-grade boy at I Red Hook’s Public School 15 in Brooklyn, New York, got in a fistfight with another nine-year-old. Upset by the altercation, the boy walked away from school in tears. When Patrick Daly, the popular principal of P. S. 15, learned of the situation, he left the school to look for the boy—an action consistent with the character of this man, who had been teaching at the school since 1966 and had been principal since 1986. Walking through Red Hook’s crime-ridden housing projects in search of the young boy, Daly eventually found himself in the crossfire of a drugrelated skirmish. a stray bullet hit Daly in the chest, and he fell to the ground. Edgardo Torres, a security guard and former marine who witnessed the shooting, reached the fallen principal and attempted to administer cpr. Daly’s last words to Torres: “Thank you.” At 12:10 p.m. Patrick Daly—described by many as a soft-spoken, dedicated, and caring educator—was pronounced dead at the Long Island College Hospital.

Three teenagers were later arrested, tried, and convicted for the murder of the beloved school principal, but the community was left grieving at its loss and determined to do something about widespread crime in Red Hook. Just a few years before Daly’s untimely death, Red Hook had been featured in Life magazine as a degenerating community racked by rampant criminal activity and a raging crack epidemic. the streets of the Red Hook neighborhood, as depicted in the 1988 article, were littered with empty crack vials and hypodermic needles, terrorized by near-daily shootouts between rival drug operations, and populated by residents so frightened they rarely left their apartments. Almost anticipating Daly’s murder, one resident, who was interviewed for the article, said of the crack gangs, “They kill each other and anybody in the way.”

The death of the principal, who happened to get “in the way,” served as a catalyst for action. Charles J. Hynes, Kings County district attorney, and Judge Judith Kaye, chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, with the help of New York’s Center for Court Innovation (CCI), worked together to help bring about what would become a flagship community court: the Red Hook Community Justice Center. the court, which opened its doors in 2000, is located in a renovated building that was previously the home of a local parochial school. the judge-led program, which offers court-monitored intervention for a variety of low-level “quality of life” crimes (including petty theft, drug offenses, prostitution, and illegal vending), has been presided over by Judge Alex Calabrese since its inception.

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