Problem-Solving Courts Can Produce Better Outcomes for Participants, But Do White Defendants Benefit More Than Black?

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The emergence of drug-treatment courts and other specialized “problem-solving courts” (PSCs) has been among the most important developments in American criminal justice over the past three decades. Founded in 1989, Miami’s drug-treatment court is often credited as the nation’s first PSC. The court was developed out of a sense of frustration that conventional criminal-justice responses to drug crime failed to address underlying addiction problems, resulting in a seemingly never-ending cycle of arrest, incarceration, return to use, and rearrest for many individuals. Treatment might be offered, or even required, within the conventional system, but the results were often disappointing. However, the drug-treatment court aimed to provide treatment within a different framework. The judge kept close tabs on the defendant’s progress, working with a team of court personnel and treatment providers to ensure adequate support for the defendant’s rehabilitation and appropriate accountability for backsliding.

The drug-treatment court concept spread rapidly. Hundreds of such courts were created by the late 1990’s, and thousands exist today. Moreover, the drug-treatment court model—specialized caseload handled by an interdisciplinary team, provision of social services to address underlying causes of criminal behavior, close judicial supervision, and use of carrots and sticks to keep defendants progressing through treatment—has been adapted to handle a wide range of other offender groups. The PSCs now in operation in many jurisdictions include mental health courts, homelessness courts, DUI courts, prisoner reentry courts, and veterans courts.

Continue reading “Problem-Solving Courts Can Produce Better Outcomes for Participants, But Do White Defendants Benefit More Than Black?”

New Approaches to Judging and a Primer on Redistricting Featured in New Marquette Lawyer

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Summer Cover - Drawing of a CourthouseSpotlighting aspects of the life of Marquette Law School is an important goal of any issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine. Yet a successful issue does more than that. It also provides in-depth reporting and thinking about major issues that shape the law and affect lives.

Measured against such important goals, the Summer 2021 issue of Marquette Lawyer is a strong success. It offers a set of stories focusing on judges, several of them alumni of the Law School, who are taking “problem-solving” approaches to their work. This moves them beyond the conventional ways of presiding over courtrooms and cases. Instead, they lead teams trying to help people achieve stable living. There is not universal agreement even among judges as to its desirability, but the cover stories identify and explore an important trend. The magazine also includes an extensive primer on political redistricting issues that are hot subjects currently. Another article examines the surge in investors from beyond Wisconsin who are buying homes in Milwaukee. And, certainly, the magazine reports on aspects of life at the Law School, including the success of students’ pro bono work during the pandemic, an unusual honor extended to two emeritae professors, career milestones of some Marquette lawyers, and a conversation on corporate law between a Marquette faculty expert and a notable Delaware judge.

Here is a guide to the content, including links that will take you to the full articles.

Can Judges Become Helpers? The role of courts is being given new dimensions by dozens of judges across Wisconsin whose work includes presiding in treatment courts that aim to reduce recidivism by helping people put issues such as addiction behind them. “We are creating a new wave of judges,” says Chief Judge Mary Triggiano of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court. “We’ve made some profound changes in the way we judge.” In five pieces, this package describes how treatment courts work and profiles some of the judges who are involved. To read the stories, click here.

Big Need, Big Change, Big Help. Marquette Law School puts a priority on encouraging and helping students to take part in pro bono efforts. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, how were students (and volunteer lawyers) to continue in the clinics and the direct help at the center of their efforts? By switching to virtual work, of course, including launching a help line that has received thousands of calls. Read the story by clicking here.

Still Winning in the Court of Public Opinion. The Marquette Law School Poll’s second annual nationwide survey of public opinion about the U.S. Supreme Court found that majorities are satisfied with the work of the Court. People give the Court higher marks than the presidency or Congress, and believe that it bases its decisions on the law more than politics. Might an interest in keeping that standing among public opinion affect how the Court decides upcoming cases? Read the story, reporting on both public opinion and that of experts, by clicking here.

Between the Lines: The Politics, Law, and History of Political Redistricting. As the battles in Wisconsin heat up over political redistricting following the 2020 census, the Law School’s Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education provides a primer that describes how political boundaries are determined and the history that has brought up the current system. While state legislative districts draw the most contentious advocacy, this package of stories also describes congressional and local redistricting practices, and gives perspective on what is and is not at stake currently. To read the stories, click here.

Who Owns the House Next Door? While relatively small efforts to help low-income people buy homes in Milwaukee have had successes, the big action in purchases of inexpensive homes involves investors from beyond Wisconsin who see low home prices and substantial rental income as attractive investment opportunities. This very recent and accelerating development has substantial social implications. Read the story by clicking here.

Of LLCs, ESGs, Diversity, and Virtual Annual Meetings. Delaware Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster talks with Nadelle Grossman, professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs, about developments in corporate law. In early 2020, Laster was Marquette Law School’s annual Hallows Judicial Fellow. Read excerpts of their conversation by clicking here.

In the Law School News section, we recognize the winners of four alumni awards: Deborah McKeithan-Gebhardt, L’87, alumna of the year; James T. Murray, Jr., L’74, for lifetime achievement; Sarah Padove, L’12, the Charles W. Mentkowski Sports Law Alumna of the Year; and Raphael R. Ramos, L’08, who received the Howard B. Eisenberg Service Award.

The Law School News section also includes a story on the unveiling of portraits in Eckstein Hall of two emeritae professors, Carolyn M. Edwards and Phoebe Weaver Williams; a report on a community conversation on policing and accountability; a set of quotations from speakers to give a flavor of recent virtual Law School programs; and a description of a new book exploring the famous Chicago lakefront’s legal history, including the American public trust doctrine, which has its origins there.

The Law School News pages may be read by clicking here.

The Class Notes section, with updates on several dozen Marquette lawyers, includes an appreciation of R. L. McNeely, L’94, who grew up in Flint, Mich., and became a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, community leader, and lawyer. Class Notes may be read by clicking here.

A message from Dean Joseph D. Kearney, introducing the magazine and reflecting in particular on the cover stories, may be read by clicking here.

The full issue of the magazine may be read by clicking here.

New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Goes Deep in Looking at Crime and Society

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Slogans are appropriate, even useful, for rallies or marches. In-depth thought is what should be expected from law schools. The Fall 2020 issue of Marquette Lawyer magazine offers a weighty serving of the latter, while examining implications of the former.

With the overall title of “The Crime and Society Issue,” the new magazine’s cover package features three pieces focusing on assessing and potentially improving the criminal justice system, from the time of an arrest through the charging and court processes, and ways of sanctioning people who commit crimes. Each piece features expertise and insight presented at Eckstein Hall events by scholars from coast to coast.

The lead story starts with some of the controversial ideas heard during 2020, such as “defund the police,” and explores ways the justice system could be improved when it comes to the overall safety and stability of urban communities. “The Case for Careful but Big Change” focuses in large part on the ideas of Paul Butler, the Albert Brick Professor in Law at Georgetown University, particularly as he presented them in Marquette Law School’s annual Boden Lecture and in an “On the Issues with Mike Gousha” program (last academic year, before the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person programs at Eckstein Hall). Continue reading “New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Goes Deep in Looking at Crime and Society”

The Washington, D.C., Issue of the Marquette Lawyer Magazine 

Posted on Categories Marquette Law School Poll, Marquette Lawyer Magazine, Milwaukee Area Project, Public, U.S. Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on The Washington, D.C., Issue of the Marquette Lawyer Magazine 

2020 Summer Cover

Amid all the global disruptions that started in March, Marquette Law School moved forward effectively in teaching students to be lawyers and in offering, as best we could, the public engagement we are known for. One important aspect of the latter is the release of the new issue of the Marquette Lawyer magazine, produced with a few internal procedural adjustments, but no change in schedule or in our commitment to provide high-quality reading to Marquette lawyers, all lawyers in Wisconsin, and many interested others.

Washington, D.C., is the focus of the new issue. The Washington that’s in Continue reading “The Washington, D.C., Issue of the Marquette Lawyer Magazine “

Marquette Lawyer Magazine Looks at the Milwaukee Public Schools—and Seemingly Timeless Societal Problems, Especially Segregation (Post 2 of 3)

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Marquette Lawyer Magazine, Milwaukee Public Schools, Public, Race & LawLeave a comment» on Marquette Lawyer Magazine Looks at the Milwaukee Public Schools—and Seemingly Timeless Societal Problems, Especially Segregation (Post 2 of 3)

Judge John W. Reynolds sitting in a chairA previous blog post discussed a pair of stories in the Summer 2019 Marquette Lawyer magazine and concluded by quoting one of them: specifically, an observation by Professor David Strauss of the University of Chicago, based on the Boden Lecture at Marquette Law School by Duke’s Professor Ernest Young, that “in the end, there is only so much the law can do to save a society from its own moral failings.” This post takes up a second pair of stories in the magazine, from which one might draw the same conclusion.

While it remains a fact about the large majority of schools in the Milwaukee area now, segregation of Milwaukee school students by race was the subject of great energy—attention, advocacy, and controversy—in the 1960s and 1970s. Two pieces in this summer’s Marquette Lawyer focus on the Milwaukee education scene of that earlier era.

In one, Alan Borsuk, the Law School’s senior fellow in law and public policy, writes about the decision issued in January 1976, by U.S. District Judge John W. Reynolds, which ordered that the Milwaukee Public Schools be desegregated. “A Simple Order, a Complex Legacy” touches upon the legal history of school desegregation cases, Reynolds’ 1976 ruling itself, and the legacy of that Milwaukee ruling. To borrow a phrase from Professor Young’s Boden Lecture, there is scarcely “an optimistic, onward-and-upward feel” to the account. Continue reading “Marquette Lawyer Magazine Looks at the Milwaukee Public Schools—and Seemingly Timeless Societal Problems, Especially Segregation (Post 2 of 3)”

New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Sees Past Problems as Shedding Light on Future Challenges (Post 1 of 3)

Posted on Categories Civil Rights, Constitutional Interpretation, Federalism, Judges & Judicial Process, Legal History, Marquette Lawyer Magazine, Popular Culture & Law, Race & Law, Speakers at Marquette, U.S. Supreme CourtLeave a comment» on New Marquette Lawyer Magazine Sees Past Problems as Shedding Light on Future Challenges (Post 1 of 3)

This cover of the summer issue of the Marquette Lawyer. The Summer 2019 issue of Marquette Lawyer features three pairs of stories with an underlying common theme that can be summed up by one of the headlines: “In Search of Better Outcomes.” This issue of the Marquette Law School semiannual magazine overall has a substantial historical orientation, but it also speaks strongly to current realities and issues—as has become even clearer since the magazine hit the streets a few weeks ago. Simply put, learning about the past helps in understanding the present and considering the future. This post takes up one pair of articles: the cover story and a reaction to it.

The cover story, “Dying Constitutionalism and the Fourteenth Amendment,” is an edited version of the Robert F. Boden Lecture given at Marquette Law School in fall 2018, by Ernest A. Young, the Alston & Bird Professor at Duke Law School. While the Fourteenth Amendment later would be crucial to the growth of constitutional protections and the extension of civil rights—the linchpin of America’s “second founding,” as it is sometimes called—Young focuses on the first 75 years after the amendment was ratified in 1868. It was a period of broad suppression of civil rights, particularly those of African Americans—the Fourteenth Amendment not working much to the contrary.

Young’s purpose is not so much historical as jurisprudential: He presents his essay as a cautionary tale about “living constitutionalism,” demonstrating that, while that mode of constitutional interpretation was not the Court’s stated approach in those 75 years, it could have been: For “every one of [living constitutionalism’s] modalities strongly supported the compromise or even abandonment of the amendment’s core purpose of freedom and equality for black Americans.” Simply stated, the history of the use of the amendment is a reminder that “social progress is not inevitable, that social forces can push constitutional meaning in bad as well as good directions, that living can turn into dying constitutionalism if we are not very, very careful,” Young writes.

In a comment on Young’s lecture, David A. Strauss, Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago and author of The Living Constitution (Oxford 2012), says that the early failures under the Fourteenth Amendment need to be reckoned with by those who are proponents of living constitutionalism. He writes that Young’s lecture shows that “in the end, there is only so much that the law can do to save a society from its own moral failings.”

A future post will discuss another pair of articles in the magazine that would support the same reaction. Click here to read both Young’s lecture and Strauss’s comment.