The term Therapeutic Jurisprudence (TJ) was first used by Professor David Wexler of the University of Arizona Rogers College of Law and University of Puerto Rico School of Law in a paper delivered to the National Institute of Mental Health in 1987. Professor Bruce Winick, (who passed in 2010) of the University of Miami School of Law, originated the concept with Wexler and they advocated seeing the law through a new lens. TJ, says the website, “concentrates on the law’s impact on emotional life and psychological well-being.”
TJ’s mission is to study the extent to which substantive rules, legal procedures, and the role of legal actors (lawyers and judges among others) produce therapeutic or antitherapeutic consequences for individuals involved in the legal process. Once noted, the goal is to enhance therapeutic outcomes and reduce antitherapeutic ones. It requires an ethic of care and an expansion of the usual roles of attorneys and judges to include the use of heightened interpersonal skills.
TJ has been clear from the beginning, however, that dearly held principles such as equal protection and due process are not sublimated for therapeutic reasons. That is, due process is never “trumped” by TJ.
Ultimately, TJ’s question is: Can we enhance the likelihood of desired outcomes and compliance with judicial orders by applying what we know about behavior to the way we do business in court?
For a more in depth discussion on Therapeutic Jurisprudence, click here.
There is a TJ in the Mainstream blog.