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Front-Stage Stars and Backstage Producers: The Role of Judges in Problem-Solving Courts

NCJ Number
Victims & Offenders Volume: 8 Issue: 1 Dated: January - March 2013 Pages: 1-22
Shannon Portillo; Danielle S. Rudes; Jill Viglione; Matthew Nelson
Date Published
January 2013
22 pages
This article examines the role of judges in problem-solving courts in the United States.
In problem-solving courts judges are no longer neutral arbitrators in adversarial justice processes. Instead, judges directly engage with court participants. The movement toward problem-solving court models emerges from a collaborative therapeutic jurisprudence framework. While most scholars argue judges are the central courtroom actors within problem-solving courts, the authors found judges are the stars front-stage, but play a more supporting role backstage. The authors used Goffman's (1959) front-stage-backstage framework to analyze 350 hours of ethnographic fieldwork within five problem-solving courts. Problem-solving courts are collaborative organizations with shifting leadership, based on forum. Understanding how the roles of courtroom workgroup actors adapt under the new court model is foundational for effective implementation of these justice processes. Abstract published by arrangement with Taylor and Francis.