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From Adversarial Legalism to Collaborative Problem-Solving: A Pragmatic Turn in American Criminal Justice

33 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2010 Last revised: 2 Apr 2010

Kony Kim

University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; UnCommon Law

Date Written: April 2, 2010

Abstract

Adversarial legalism ("AL"), as Professor Robert Kagan argues, is the American way of law. It is caused by a mismatch between sweeping political demands and a fragmented government system, and it is entrenched by a legal culture that makes vigorous use of existing litigation mechanisms. This paper considers a recent phenomenon among public interest lawyers - a cultural shift from liberal legalism to legal pragmatism - and implications for AL. The author describes one case of legal pragmatism in action, in which state and non-state actors have collaborated to pioneer a problem-solving approach to “low-level” crime. This case, taken as an instance of a broader movement in U.S. criminal justice, illustrates how enterprising groups of legal professionals can catalyze structural changes that chip away at AL’s foundations.

Keywords: adversarial legalism, collaborative justice, criminal justice, liberal legalism, legal pragmatism, problem solving courts, red hook

JEL Classification: D7, K4

Suggested Citation

Kim, Kony, From Adversarial Legalism to Collaborative Problem-Solving: A Pragmatic Turn in American Criminal Justice (April 2, 2010). Western Political Science Association 2010 Annual Meeting Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1580498

Kony Kim (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley

2240 Piedmont Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.tinyurl.com/jspkony

University of California, Berkeley, School of Law ( email )

315 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.tinyurl.com/jspkony

UnCommon Law

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Oakland, CA 94607
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.uncommonlaw.org

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