Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing: The International Problem-Solving Court Movement

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Princeton University Press, Mar 31, 2009 - Law - 264 pages

A wide variety of problem-solving courts have been developed in the United States over the past two decades and are now being adopted in countries around the world. These innovative courts--including drug courts, community courts, domestic violence courts, and mental health courts--do not simply adjudicate offenders. Rather, they attempt to solve the problems underlying such criminal behaviors as petty theft, prostitution, and drug offenses. Legal Accents, Legal Borrowing is a study of the international problem-solving court movement and the first comparative analysis of the development of these courts in the United States and the other countries where the movement is most advanced: England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. Looking at the various ways in which problem-solving courts have been taken up in these countries, James Nolan finds that while importers often see themselves as adapting the American courts to suit local conditions, they may actually be taking in more aspects of American law and culture than they realize or desire. In the countries that adopt them, problem-solving courts may in fact fundamentally challenge traditional ideas about justice. Based on ethnographic research in all six countries, the book examines these cases of legal borrowing for what they reveal about legal and cultural differences, the inextricable tie between law and culture, the processes of globalization, the unique but contested global role of the United States, and the changing face of law and justice around the world.


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As an American Judge committed to drug court, mental health court and other emerging problem solving courts I was delighted by Professor Nolan's well researched and insightful examination of how various common law countries have implemented the problem solving method in their criminal justice systems. I highly recommend Legal Accents/lLegal Borrowing to any legal professional interested in the drug court movement. All drug courts are not created equal. Many judges, prosecuting attorneys and criminal defense attorneys are very cautious if not downright suspicious of drug courts. This book can be most helpful in assuring the skeptics that wherever one falls on the traditional/different continuum, one may implement the problem solving approach to criminal justice without compromising due process, equal protection, victims' rights and the legitimacy of the judge's role. Ron Wilper 


Problem Solving and Courts of Law
Law and Culture in Comparative Perspective
AngloAmerican Alternatives England and the United States
Commonwealth Contrasts Canada and Australia
Devolution and Difference Scotland and Ireland
American Exceptionalism
Ambivalent AntiAmericanism
Building Confidence Justifying Justice
Selected References

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About the author (2009)

James L. Nolan, Jr., is professor of sociology at Williams College. He is the author of Reinventing Justice: The American Drug Court Movement (Princeton) and The Therapeutic State: Justifying Government at Century's End.

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