Standards on Substance Abuse
XVI. Community Resources. (9) Every court should identify the specific resources
available in the community for the treatment of substance abuse,
and establish and maintain relationships with local treatment providers.
If services for a diverse population are not available in the community,
the court should determine where such services are available and
develop and maintain relationships with the providers of those services.
In each court, the effectiveness of the substance abuse strategy
will depend in large measure on knowledge of treatment resources
in the local community and the cultivation of relationships with
various providers. Often, for example, the ability to find a bed
at an in-patient facility springs from the personal knowledge of
a judge or probation officer about the facility and its personnel.
The judge and the probation officer, therefore, should acquire a
thorough understanding of treatment providers in the local community
and should be aware of the meeting times and places in the community
for self help recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). The directory developed pursuant to
Standard XV should be
used as a resource for identifying facilities to serve a diverse
STANDARD XVII. Communication
and Collaboration Within Court and With Community.
All court staff, treatment providers, prosecutors, police,
defense counsel, correctional authorities, and the media should
communicate clearly with one another on substance abuse issues.
The first, regional administrative, or chief justice, as applicable,
of each court should promote communication and collaboration on
substance abuse issues within the court, as well as between the
court and the community.
A relationship with the community is critical to ensuring the success
of every court's response to substance abuse. It is important that
the defense bar and assistant district attorneys understand that
the clients and the community are the beneficiaries of the courts'
actions with respect to substance abuse. Police should be encouraged
to attend and, if possible, be part of the faculty in any court
sponsored training program. The local bar association should be
encouraged to take part in a public meeting where the courts' substance
abuse strategy is explained. Probation officers should meet with
treatment providers, in order to form collegial relationships and
facilitate appropriate referrals. Of course, all court personnel
should avoid creating any actual or apparent conflict of interest
through their relationships with treatment providers. The business
community and the schools have important roles to play in providing
recovering substance abusers with jobs and education. Community-based
organizations, including the faith community, can help to foster
communication between the courts and the public regarding the courts'
response to substance abuse services available in the community
and the community's particular problems. The media should be made
aware of the court's approach to substance abuse, and court leaders
should consult with the court system's Public Information Office
about outreach to the media concerning new initiatives and success
stories. One way of forming and enhancing these community relationships
is to establish an advisory committee for a court or group of courts
as a forum for communication between the courts and the community.
The community corrections advisory boards required by G.L. c. 211F,
§6 and the Substance Abuse Leadership Teams formed during the Judicial
Institute substance abuse training programs may also contribute
to communication and collaboration on substance abuse issues within
the courts and between the courts and the community.
STANDARD XVIII. Use
of Courthouse for Recovery and Education Sessions. The justices
who have administrative responsibility for courthouses are encouraged
to seek permission from the Chief Justice for Administration and
Management of the Trial Court to authorize access to the court buildings
for court-referred recovery meetings, counseling sessions, and substance
abuse education group meetings, in order to ensure that security
and other issues are addressed. All courts are encouraged to refer
defendants to such meetings and sessions in the court building.
Many courts already offer space for counseling, recovery meetings,
and education groups for parties referred by the court. For example,
Alcoholics Anonymous or Rational Recovery meetings are held at a
number of courts. While most of these courthouse meetings occur
in the evenings, several courts hold daily lunchtime AA meetings
in the courthouse. Narcotics Anonymous meetings occur regularly
in a few courts, while other courts accommodate drug education and
drug prevention programs.
Substance abusers benefit
psychologically when they enter the court as part of a group of
self-respecting, recovering addicts helping one another. The courthouse
changes from a place of shame and loss of control over one's life
to one of strength and hope. This effect is magnified if court personnel,
such as probation officers and judges, attend these meetings to
give those in recovery some positive feedback concerning their success
in staying away from alcohol or drugs.
Additionally, the courts are
usually centrally located and easily accessible to the local community
by public transportation. This can be an important factor in facilitating
Any group wishing to conduct
courthouse meetings must seek permission from the Chief Justice
for Administration and Management, in order to ensure that security
and other issues are addressed.
STANDARD XIX. Substance
Abuse Within Courts. The court system should respond to substance
abuse among judges, clerks, court personnel, and lawyers. The response
should include the creation of opportunities to receive referrals
for treatment and the recognition by disciplinary authorities that
required participation in treatment can be an appropriate condition
The people who work in the court system are part of society, and
hence are vulnerable to the disease of substance abuse. Justice
will be better administered if the court system responds to this
problem among its own personnel. The efforts of the judiciary to
address substance abuse when it is a factor in cases will have far
greater credibility and will be far more effective if the court
system addresses the issue when it affects people who work within
it. Personnel policies throughout the court system should include
standards for addressing the problem of substance abuse. The Trial
Court Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual, the Appellate Courts'
Personnel Policies, the Commission on Judicial Conduct, the Committee
on Professional Responsibility for Clerks of the Courts, and the
Board of Bar Overseers should take substance abuse into account
in employment policies and disciplinary remedies. A judges' group
within Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers is a valuable resource.
STANDARD XX. Substance
Abuse Among Attorneys. Any judge or clerk-magistrate who believes
that substance abuse is a factor in the professional performance
of an attorney appearing before him or her should refer the attorney
to a lawyers' assistance program, or, if the performance amounts
to professional misconduct, report the misconduct to the Board of
Bar Overseers. If the issue of professional performance arises in
connection with an imminent proceeding in an active matter, the
judge or clerk should make inquiries and, if necessary, postpone
The most extensive lawyers' assistance program is Lawyers Concerned
for Lawyers, a group of lawyers and judges who stand ready, willing,
and able to assist other lawyers and judges who have problems with
alcoholism and addiction. A judge who becomes aware of unprofessional
conduct by a lawyer is required to "initiate appropriate investigative
or disciplinary measures." See SJC Rule 3:09, Canon 3(B)(3)(b).
If the attorney was assigned the case by the Committee for Public
Counsel Services (CPCS), the court should notify CPCS, pursuant
to G.L. c. 211D, §10. The Board of Bar Overseers is bound by specific
rules regarding what to do with an alcoholic or addicted lawyer.
See SJC Rule 4:01, §13, pars. 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, which address the
response by the Board of Bar Overseers to the issue of incapacity
of a lawyer.
Identification of Community Resources is called for by Standards
10:04 and 10:05 of the Commissioner of Probation's Standards
for Supervision for Probation Offices of the Superior Court Department,
District Court Department, Boston Municipal Court Department and
the Juvenile Court Department.
Page | Top of This Page