American Judges Association


Date of this Version



Published in Court Review: The Journal of the American Judges Association, 44:1/2. Copyright © 2007-2008 National Center for State Courts. Used by permission.


Judges Kevin Burke and Steve Leben, in Procedural Fairness: A Key Ingredient in Public Satisfaction, have produced a most impressive White Paper. It is handy, brief, crisp, readable, and immensely practical.

The document draws on, and makes most accessible, the research on procedural justice, demonstrating convincingly the importance of judges understanding and implementing in their courtrooms concepts such as “voice” and “respect.” Judges Burke and Leben claim procedural justice to be “the” critical element in public trust and confidence regarding the court system. They note, too, the role procedural fairness likely plays in increased compliance with court orders and even in reduced recidivism.

The latter contention—regarding compliance and reduced recidivism—is an area where the literature of procedural justice spills over substantially into the related and indeed overlapping area of therapeutic jurisprudence (TJ). The present essay argues that therapeutic jurisprudence is “the” critical element in how courts can reduce re-offending, and urges that judges should similarly familiarize themselves with that area, a process that, like the introduction to procedural fairness, can also begin by judges perusing a few key sources and websites.

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