Deborah J. Chase is a senior attorney with the California Judicial Council, Administrative Office of the Courts and The Center for Families, Children and the Courts. She has worked with local trial courts to develop programs to assist pro se litigants in all areas of civil litigation and with California's Unified Courts for Families project. She is a family law specialist certified by the State Bar of California with over twenty-seven years in practice. She also holds a PhD in clinical psychology. She has served on the faculty of the B.E. Witkin Judicial College teaching civil and criminal domestic violence law to newly appointed judges. She has worked on numerous committees and task forces related to pro se assistance and family law including the Family and Juvenile Law Advisory Committee to the California Judicial Council and the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission of the State Bar of California. She was awarded a 2002 CLAY award (California Lawyer Magazine Attorney of the Year) for her work in improving access to justice for pro se litigants.
THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE: THE COURT ASSIGNMENT AND JUDICIAL SATISFACTION
Article first published online: 13 MAR 2009
© 2009 Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
Family Court Review
Volume 47, Issue 2, pages 209–238, April 2009
How to Cite
Chase, D. and Hora, Hon. P. F. (2009), THE BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE: THE COURT ASSIGNMENT AND JUDICIAL SATISFACTION. Family Court Review, 47: 209–238. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-1617.2009.01250.x
Judge Peggy Fulton Hora retired in 2006 from the California Superior Court after serving twenty-one years. She had a criminal assignment that included presiding over the Drug Treatment Court. She is a former dean of the B.E. Witkin Judicial College of California and has been on the faculty of the National Judicial College since 1992. She is a recipient of the Bernard S. Jefferson Judicial Education Award from the California Judges’ Association. Judge Hora is a senior judicial fellow for the National Drug Court Institute. She has lectured nationally and internationally and has written extensively on justice issues. The appellate court and over 100 journals and law reviews have cited her work. She recently was appointed by the Premier of South Australia to be a 2009 Thinker in Residence. She will work on therapeutic jurisprudence and restorative justice issues for the government in Adelaide. Her latest article, “Drug Treatment Courts in the Twenty-First Century: The Evolution of the Revolution in Problem-Solving Courts,” was published in the Georgia Law Review.
- Issue published online: 13 MAR 2009
- Article first published online: 13 MAR 2009
- drug courts;
- family law courts;
- unified family law courts;
- problem-solving courts;
- therapeutic jurisprudence;
- family law judges;
- drug court judges;
- judicial satisfaction
A survey of 355 judges examined the differences in judicial satisfaction between those assigned to problem-solving courts—such as drug treatment and unified family—and judges in other more traditional assignments such as family law and criminal courts. The unified family court systems, like drug treatment courts, have generally adopted the principles of therapeutic jurisprudence. Significant differences were found on each of the three survey scales: (1) helpfulness, (2) attitude toward litigants, and (3) positive effects of assignment. The judges who were in the problem-solving courts (drug treatment and unified family court) scored higher on all three scales than those who were not (traditional family and criminal court). The group of problem-solving court judges consistently scored higher than the other group of judges, with the drug treatment court judges scoring the highest. The group of traditional criminal court and family court judges scored less positively, with the criminal court judges having the lowest scores. The problem-solving court judges were more likely to report believing that the role of the court should include helping litigants address the problems that brought them there and were more likely to observe positive changes in the litigants. They were also more likely to believe that litigants are motivated to change and are able to do so. They felt more respected by the litigants and were more likely to think that the litigants were grateful for help they received. The problem-solving court judges were also more likely to report being happy in their assignments and to believe that these assignments have a positive emotional effect on them.