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Who\u27s Afraid of Judicial Activism? Reconceptualizing a Traditional Paradigm in the Context of Specialized Domestic Violence Court Programs

By Jennifer L. Thompson

Abstract

The Specialized Domestic Violence Pilot Project (Pilot Project), implemented in York and Portland in July and August 2002, is the result of the collaborative efforts of the District Court system, law enforcement, prosecutors, members of the defense bar, and various community agencies offering services to victims and perpetrators. District court judges are largely responsible for overseeing the changes in court procedures and implementing the new protocols in domestic violence cases. The Pilot Project, and the changes it is making to the role that courts play in domestic violence cases, represents a significant departure from the procedures followed by traditional court programs. As a result of newly coordinated efforts and increased communication and training, the Pilot Project has the potential to alter the disposition of domestic violence cases in the State of Maine. Given the departure from traditional court models that the Pilot Project represents, and the role that the judicial branch has played in effectuating these new changes, the following questions begin to surface: Is the Pilot Project, and other similar specialized domestic violence court programs around the country, in some way representative of unorthodox judicial action? Could the newly-active role undertaken by the judicial branch to reorganize court structures be conceived of as a form of “activism” unlike that seen in conventional court settings? Finally, if such court programs are in fact examples of judicial activism, are they consequently objectionable or their outcomes subject to accusations of partiality in the same way that are other instances of so called “judicial activism”? This Comment will endeavor to explore some of these questions as they relate to the development and operation of creative judicial programs, particularly within the State of Maine. Specifically, it will focus on the role that Maine\u27s new Pilot Domestic Violence Project plays in adjudicating domestic violence cases and the extent to which the project represents, at the very least a departure from more traditional court programs and is, perhaps, also an example of “judicial activism.

Topics: pilot project, domestic violence pilot project, domestic violence, judicial activism, trial, judges, district court, Courts, Judges, Jurisprudence, Law and Society
Publisher: University of Maine School of Law Digital Commons
Year: 2017
OAI identifier: oai:digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu:mlr-1382
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