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Keywords:

  • drug courts;
  • family law courts;
  • unified family law courts;
  • problem-solving courts;
  • therapeutic jurisprudence;
  • judges;
  • 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.