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December 06, 2013

Reporter's Notebook: Chief Justice Also Campaigns Against Insider-Speak

Chief Justice Paul Reiber at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, photo by Tom McNeill

I wanted to follow-up with a couple extra items that did not make it into the story this week about Chief Justice Paul Reiber's campaigning against the war on drugs.

- While Reiber has said that he is speaking out as an administrator concerned about the burdens being placed on the judicial docket, his speeches seem to reflect a deeper allegiance to people trying to reform the criminal justice system. At Vermont Law School's Innovative Criminal Justice Practices Conference, Reiber even started giving advice to proponents for change.

For example, he urged them to avoid a lot of the jargon that they casually use: The conference was full of talk of  "co-occurring disabilities" and the "sequential intercept model." Reiber said that such language would make the people they are trying to help feel more despair, and believe that only the government and trained professionals can help them.

“They have the undesired effect of creating ... a sense of dependence," Reiber said. "(It) makes it seem as if it’s a problem that can only be addressed by professionals.”

- While former New Hampshire Chief Justice John Broderick said he is a proponent of judges engaging in policy debates, he urged caution.

“It’s a hard job because you’re not really free to speak your mind, and you always have to make sure you are a little back from that line, so people don’t think you are a politician," Broderick said.

- Finally, Vermont Law School has posted a copy of Reiber's speech in Massachusetts, and posted audio of his  speech on their campus on the school's innovative criminal justice program homepage. (His remarks begin at the seven minute mark on the audio clip.)  Check them out.



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