Friday, January 20, 2012

Dignity and Respect


Two great judges came to visit us this morning: Matthew D'Emic from Brooklyn and Marcia Hirsch from Queens. Both are long-time friends of the Center for Court Innovation -- D'Emic from his work in domestic violence court and mental health court and Hirsch from her work in drug court and mental health court. Their appearance at our monthly staff meeting was a somewhat rare opportunity to hear directly from judges about the joys and challenges of their work.

What struck me was that Hirsch and D'Emic clearly have different personalities on the bench. To give just one small example, D'Emic spoke about how he frequently uses bench conferences to communicate directly with defendants, while Hirsch said she almost never engages in the practice.

For all their differences in approach and temperament, what D'Emic and Hirsch both share is an outspoken commitment to treating each defendant with dignity and respect. In this way, they embody the work that we have been doing on effective courtroom communication and procedural justice. Speaking of which, we have created a new area on our website devoted to the topic. Check it out.