News Release ~ 04/19/2010

Problem-Solving Courts Symposium: The Pros and Cons of Treatment in the Criminal Justice System
Hosted by: NACDL, NYCLA and NYSBA
April 20, 2010

New York, NY (April 19, 2010) – On Tuesday, April 20 from 6:00-9:00 PM, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), New York County Lawyers’ Association Criminal Justice Section (NYCLA) and the New York State Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section are co- sponsoring “Problem-Solving Courts Symposium: The Pros and Cons of Treatment in the Criminal Justice System,” at the NYCLA Home of Law, 14 Vesey Street, New York, NY 10007. Panelists will debate the various functions of problem-solving courts, including access, standards and whether those most in need of treatment are being served. The discussion will focus on how to effectively find solutions to some of society’s concerns while balancing individual constitutional rights.

The symposium, free and open to the public will include the following panelists: Hon. Marcia P. Hirsch, Presiding Justice, Queens Treatment Court; Justin Barry, coordinator, New York City Citywide Drug Court; Marvin Schechter, co-chair, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Problem-Solving Courts Task Force; Lisa Schreibersdorf, Esq., executive director, Brooklyn Defender Services; Candice Singer, policy analyst, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, New Jersey; and Anne Swern, first assistant district attorney, Kings County, in charge of the Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison Program, the first prosecution-run program in the country to divert prison-bound felony offenders into residential drug treatment. The moderator will be Joel M. Schumm, professor of clinical law at the Indiana University School of Law.


Drug courts were instituted in the early 1980s by Janet Reno, who was then Miami Dade’s State Attorney, as a means of stemming the overflow of low-level drug suspects in South Florida’s prisons. The initial courts were set up with the intent of diverting these defendants into treatment programs instead of prison. Now, 20 years later, there are more than 2,100 such courts in existence.

These courts have helped many individuals addicted to drugs gain access to treatment and find their way into becoming productive members of society. However, many are concerned with the constitutional challenges inherent in a system that limits defense attorneys’ ability to zealously advocate for their clients, ensures a criminal conviction is part of the cost of failure, and has barriers to accessibility for minorities, the poor and immigrants.

In September 2009, NACDL released a report entitled America’s Problem-Solving Courts: The Criminal Costs of Treatment and the Case for Reform. The report was the product of a two-year critical analysis of these courts that presented examples of best practicing courts, and provided several recommendations on how to ensure these courts function effectively and efficiently. The report also addressed controversial issues such as stringent eligibility requirements, the lack of national standards in the establishment and functioning of these courts, and ethical issues faced by the defense bar.

Copies of the Executive Summary and report and will be available at the event and can be accessed online at Executive Summary and America''s Problem Solving Courts: The Criminal Costs of Treatment and the Case for Reform.

For more information, please contact Angelyn C. Frazer at (202) 872-8600 ext. 242 or via email at To register, please visit

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's approximately 9,000 direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.

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