Wednesday, April 30, 2008


One of the projects that falls under the umbrella of the Center for Courts and the Community is a new website for young people in New York. The idea is to create a single place where students and teachers can go to learn about the courts and innovative civic education programs. With the help of technology staff at OCA, Jackie and Dory have been tweaking the site for the past year. It is now ready to go live. I encourage you to check it out by clicking here.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Trouble Funk

Last week, Christine's brother, who covers popular music for the New York Times (among other publications) wrote an obituary for the keyboardist of Trouble Funk, one of my favorite bands when I was growing up in Washington D.C.   It is difficult to remember now, but in the early 1980s there was a big debate in the press over which new fad would be triumphant -- hip-hop or go-go.  I guess we know how that battle turned out.  While go-go never ended up being more than a DC phenomenon, it is still one of the most irresistible genres of music imaginable -- especially when played live.  And Trouble Funk was, at least to my ears, the best of go-go.  I encourage you to check them out.  

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Statewide Coordination of Problem-Solving Courts

I was in DC today for a roundtable that we put together with the Bureau of Justice Assistance. We convened a group to discuss an emerging phenomenon: the statewide coordination of problem-solving courts. Included at the table were state leaders from Utah, New York, Vermont, California, Maryland, Idaho and Indiana, along with representatives from some of the major national groups in the field, including the Council of State Governments, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, the National Center for State Courts and others. To my knowledge, it was the first-ever gathering of its kind. I'm still processing the experience and am finding it difficult to distill into bite-size, blog-worthy nuggets. What I can say with a fair degree of confidence is that the roundtable underlined that there is a great hunger in the field for more thinking about what the goals of statewide coordination should be and how they might be achieved. We've got some work to do before we come up with the answers to these questions. Anyway, kudos to Julius, Brett, Alan and Val for their roles today.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Fordham Law Class

Tonight I taught a class at Fordham Law School.  A few years back, we designed a course on problem-solving courts with the help of a handful of law professors and other smart people.  Fordham has generously allowed us to offer the class for the past three years -- first with Val teaching it as an adjunct, and this year with Adam.   Adam asked me to lecture about the future of problem-solving justice.  It was a good time, mostly because the students seemed thoughtful and well-versed (kudos to Adam, by the way).  I think in its own small way the course is an important contribution to the future of problem-solving justice, actually.  We've sent the curriculum around to judges and academics around the country and a handful of them have adapted the course in their local law schools.   I think this is another sign that our ideas are starting to spread into formerly unchartered waters (in this case, academia).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Youth Justice Board

Yesterday, City Limits ran a good piece on young people participating in their own Family Court cases that included a number of references to our Youth Justice Board.  The article is here

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Red Hook Youth Court

My favorite email of the week comes from James in Red Hook, who writes:
"We are just finalizing our 2007 numbers and I could not help but be in awe of one of our programs and the fabulous success it has had in the last year. The program I speak of is the Red Hook Youth Court. In 2007 we had 46 active Youth Court members who heard 189 cases and had 92% compliance. On top of the unbelievable numbers, if you spend time talking with members and hearing about their college and career plans you are blown away. So to Shante, Liz and the Americorps staff (Shaina, Minerva and Tiara) who made this a banner year, I salute you on a job well done. "

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Bureau of Justice Assistance

I spent yesterday in Washington D.C. The day started with a photo shoot for Government Executive magazine, which is doing a story on both problem-solving courts and our failure inquiry (the piece should be out in May -- I'll let you know).

The rest of the day was spent at the Bureau of Justice Assistance, which is the arm of the US Department of Justice that administers grants for national training and technical assistance (among other things). BJA is one of our key institutional partners, and has been for more than a decade now. Our big project with them at the moment is an upcoming roundtable that we are organizing that will bring together states (including New York) that are working on statewide administration of problem-solving courts to share ideas and brainstorm solutions to common problems. To my knowledge, it will be the first gathering of its kind ever.

While I was in DC, I also did a lot of listening, trying to get a sense of the federal funding scene. In terms of our narrow parochial interest -- money for justice innovation -- the news out of DC is not good these days, I must say. As anyone who reads a newspaper knows, the economy is not in good shape. Plus there is a war going on that requires an enormous amount of funding. Plus there is a big fight between the executive branch and the legislative branch over earmarks. Plus it is an election year, which further muddies the waters. It all adds up to a time of transition and uncertainty.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Ready to Lead
This is a national study that looks at whether non-profits are doing a good job of grooming the next generation of leaders. There is some interesting stuff in it about the value of mentoring, training, promoting from within an agency, and modelling a healthy work-life balance for younger staff. Also interesting is how much value younger staff place on expanding their personal networks as a key tool for climbing up the ladder. And there appear to be some gender differences, with female staffers saying that they have a greater need to learn management skills and build confidence before they can assume leadership roles.

Presidential Candidates Platforms on Criminal Justice
A helpful piece from The Sentencing Project that breaks down where Obama, Clinton and McCain stand on a variety of criminal justice issues.

Judges Pay Suit
ALBANY -- Shortly after a new state budget is adopted - for the 10th straight year without pay raises for New York judges - a top Manhattan litigator plans to sue, claiming lawmakers and the governor have failed their constitutional obligation to preserve an independent judiciary. From The New York Post.

Report: Nation's Gentrified Neighborhoods Threatened By Aristocratization
WASHINGTON—According to a report released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, the recent influx of exceedingly affluent powder-wigged aristocrats into the nation's gentrified urban areas is pushing out young white professionals, some of whom have lived in these neighborhoods for as many as seven years. From The Onion.