Standards on Substance Abuse: Standard XIX. Substance abuse within courts

Standards prepared by the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Substance Abuse

Table of Contents

Standard XIX

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 of discipline.


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.

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