Thinker in Residence Blog

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The Key is Judicial Education

Posted by peggyhora on August 26, 2009

Rosemary Owens, Dean, U. of Adelaide Law School

Rosemary Owens, Dean, U. of Adelaide Law School

Since I was in Melbourne for two days I went in late to the office (10:30), met with Pamela and Sue to debrief our meetings of the previous week.  We’re writing great ideas and facts on index cards to file in subject matter folders.  It should help me get a hold of all the ideas swirling around.  We then headed out to the University of Adelaide, which everyone calls “Uni,”  for a lunch meeting with some faculty there.  It was hosted by Rosemary Owens, the Dean of the Law School and included health, addiction studies, pharmacology and Aboriginal studies professors.  Addiction studies offersa post baccalaureate degree that is not quite a masters.  It was quite enlightening and I look forward to working with the school. Later in the afternoon I met with Legal Services who represent indigents who need family law assistanace and criminal defense.  Just like my old Legal Aid days they are underpaid and overworked.  It’s a path that is only for the dedicated.  I went over to the new Federal Building and it is as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the  outside.   Wood paneling in front of the bar and the bench that looks like Aboriginal art, lots of skylights and windows, brushed stainless steel, it is gorgeous.  There couldn’t be a bigger contrast between that courthouse and my old one built in the 70’s in the ice cube tray style with ugly blue siding.  I always hated that building.  There were about 35 judges from all jurisdictions for the “Twilight Judicial Development” series and I gave a 75 minute presentation on my personal journey in becoming a problem-solving  judge, the issues with problem-solving courts, an intro to evidence-based sentencing and judicial communication skills and it was quite well received.  A juvenile judge was quite interesed in Family Drug Treatment Courts and others came up to shake my hand enthusiastically. Some of the attendees are on the planning committee for the National Judicial College so who knows what may come of this.  I’ve spent over 20 years providing judicial education and I firmly believe that it is the key to change in the justice system.  If the judge is persuaded, it will be done.

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