Academic Programs

Community Courts

Community courts is a one-semester clinical program that combines a classroom component and a clinical placement one day a week with a judge in a community based state court. The seminar is taught by Judge Jay Blitzman.

The fieldwork (2 credits) -

Judges sitting in Massachusetts District, Probate, Juvenile and Housing Courts in Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Dorchester, Roxbury, Lowell, and Lawrence will serve as mentors. Students will work on pending cases as well as projects relating to the long term operation of the court.

The seminar (3 credits) -

Classes will explore the structure of state trial courts that are based in the community and how they have traditionally operated. The course will also examine the evolution of “problem-solving” or “specialized courts,” throughout the country. A non-inclusive list of topics that will be covered during the semester includes:

  • The Roles and Function of Court Personnel-  Including prosecutors, defenders, probation, court clinicians and judiciary.
  • Restorative Justice and Due Process- Discussions will include consideration of pre-adjudicatory and post-adjudicatory models, including drug, domestic violence and youth courts, and the Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn.
  • The First of the Specialized Courts: The Juvenile Court- Discussions will include analysis of relationship of court process to related systems, including public education, mental health and community based service providers.
  • Ethical Considerations For Lawyers and the Judiciary In Community Engagement.

For more course information: