American Judges Association


Date of this Version

December 2004


Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 40:3-4 (2004), pp. 8-15. Copyright © 2004 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission. Online at


One of the most important developments in American law over the last decade has been the exponential growth of problem-solving courts. Such courts achieve efficiencies by consolidating certain types of cases before specially designated judges. Additionally, in many instances, problem-solving courts adopt a therapeutic focus by attempting to achieve outcomes (e.g., obtaining treatment for a defendant) that go beyond the traditional goals of the judicial system. A recent commentary in this journal noted that “problem-solving courts generally focus on the underlying chronic behaviors of criminal defendants.” These courts include, but are not limited to drug courts, mental health courts, domestic violence courts, and teen smoking cessation courts. Perhaps the first prototypical problem-solving court was the juvenile court. Today, problem-solving courts exist in many countries throughout the world.

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