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Problem-solving courts have become a central feature of many state justice systems, as they offer an effective, evidence-based approach for addressing the underlying challenges—like substance use disorders and mental health issues—that often drive people into the justice system. Decades of research shows that these courts save lives, reduce reoffending, strengthen families, and improve public trust in justice. One of the major critiques of problem-solving courts, however, is that they raise constitutional and legal concerns related to due process, right to counsel, access to appropriate treatment, confidentiality of information, and other issues. It is critically important that problem-solving court judges and teams understand these constitutional and legal issues and ensure that their courts are conforming to the law and protecting the rights of participants. In this session, a legal expert from the Center for Court Innovation will provide a comprehensive review of the major constitutional and legal issues in problem-solving courts and facilitate a discussion around specific issues of concern to session attendees. Session attendees will be able to: 1. Identify the key constitutional and legal issues implicated by problem-solving courts; 2. Cite the major constitutional and legal underpinnings of the problem-solving court model; and 3. Improve their own courts by applying the information and recommendations offered in this presentation.

Presenters Sheila McCarthy and Monica Christofferson


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