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The Unique Role of the Judge in Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts: Advice From the Field

NCJ Number
Date Published
Jessica Pearce, Wendy Schiller
This fact sheet summarizes the conclusions of a focus group of juvenile drug treatment court (JDTC) judges from across the Nation organized by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges in August 2016 to reach a consensus on advice the focus group would give to new or existing JDTC judges who want a better understanding of their role in the court’s operation. .
Regarding the types of skills and/or attributes a JDTC judge should have, the following judicial knowledge and skills are key to an effective JDTC: knowledge of the field of adolescent substance use, JDTC recommended practices, juvenile justice in general, management and public relations methods, trauma treatment, collaborative leadership, and shared information and communication across agencies. Important attributes for JDTC judges in performing their work effectively are active-listening skills; positivity, passion, and creativity; an open-minded attitude toward behavioral change and adolescent development; an ability to build relationships; an ability to be patient and empathetic; and a respectful attitude. Some common challenges faced while presiding over a JDTC were identified by the focus group, and its advice is offered on addressing these challenges. The challenges pertain to being the ultimate decisionmaker and promoter of community outreach, ethical considerations, and building rapport with youth and families.
Date Created: November 16, 2016