BLURRED LINES: THE POTENTIAL FOR PARTIAL JUDGES AND IMPARTIAL LAWYERS IN DRUG COURTS

55 Am. Crim. L. Rev. Online 7

Ryan Shymansky* 

Participants in drug courts, whether presentence or post-incarceration, waive many of their basic Constitutional rights. While a good deal of scholarly and judicial attention has been paid to the Establishment Clause, Fourth Amendment, and Due Process concerns raised by these waivers, perhaps no concern is as fundamental as the transformation of the adversarial process itself. While a program’s “team” structure allows it to function as a goal-oriented body aimed at recovery for individual participants, it also means that (aside from occurring in a courthouse) drug court programs actually have very little in common with traditional courts. This Note will seek to address two concerns that arise from this distinctive structure: first, that judges often struggle to remain impartial as part of drug court teams, and second, that defense attorneys have difficulty strike a balance between zealously representing their clients and working cooperatively with probation officers and prosecutors. A uniform act regulating drug courts can help mitigate both concerns by providing a clear set of ethical standards for judges and lawyers to abide by.

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