Therapeutic Justice and the Evolving Role of Specialty Courts

Section 1, Spring 23

Schedule Information

Enrollment: 9/12
Credits: 3
Days* Time Room Start Date End Date
  • W
  • 1540-1740
  • SL268
01/25/2023 04/26/2023
*“R” means Thursday

Course Description

This seminar will address the evolution and growth of therapeutic justice, including, but not limited to, how courts are responding to the current opioid crisis. The focus will be on the theoretical and practical aspects of drug courts, mental health courts, family courts, veterans’ courts and other specialty courts. Public policy and political implications of establishing and operating these specialty dockets will be covered as well as how they work in practical terms. There will be close examination of the unconventional roles of the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney in the largely non-adversarial setting characteristic of these courts. Myriad legal, political and financial challenges have inevitably arisen. Numerous scholarly studies have addressed whether these courts actually meet their goals, i.e., do they reduce crime, minimize incarceration, lower criminal justice costs and restore individuals suffering from addiction and/or serious mental health conditions, etc.? These issues will be addressed by the reading materials, guest speakers and class discussion. Students will be asked to observe and report on the operation of one of the local specialty courts. This could include attending a session of the adult drug treatment court, the family treatment court or any other specialty court in the area. Readings will be drawn from law and social science journals, plus other contemporary media. The range of guest speakers may include one of the following: judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, administrator, case manager and addiction/mental health treatment specialist. A “graduate” of one or more of the local specialty courts will also be included on the speaker list.

Course Requirements

Exam Info:
Final Type (if any): None
Description: None

Written Work Product
Written Work Product: In addition to class participation, observation of a specialty court, and a court observation report, students will be evaluated on a final substantial research paper due to be submitted via EXPO on a date to be announced (but no later than noon on the last day of the final exam period).

Other Work

Other Course Details
Prerequisites: None Concurrencies: None
Mutually Exclusive With: None
Laptops Allowed: No
First Day Attendance Required: No
Course Resources: To be announced.
Course Notes: Grading will be based on class participation and a final paper, the latter being eligible for meeting the Law School’s writing requirement.

Graduation Requirements

*Satisfies Writing Requirement: Yes
**Credits For Prof. Skills Requirement: No
Satisfies Professional Ethics: No

*If “Yes,” then students are required to submit a substantial research paper in this course, which means students do not need to submit any form to SRO for this paper to meet their upper-level writing requirement. If “No,” then students must submit a “special request” e-form to SRO (available via LawWeb) no later than five weeks after the start of the term for a paper in this class to be counted toward the upper-level writing requirement.

**Yes indicates course credits count towards UVA Law’s Prof. Skills graduation requirement, not necessarily a skills requirements for any particular state bar.

Schedule No.
Law No.
Modified Type
Cross Listed: No
Cross-Listed Course Mnemonic:
Public Syllabus Link: None
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Opens: Friday, April 21, 12:01 AM
Evaluation Portal Via LawWeb Closes: Sunday, April 30, 11:59 PM