Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 12

GOVERNMENT & GAVEL

WHEN
JUDGES
NEED
HELP
By Anna Stolley Persky

Amalia Restrepo

T

he headlines are troubling:

Death of New York High-Court Judge Being Treated as a Suicide
Judges Struggling With Depression: More Common Than You Think
'My Heart Breaks': Lawyers React to Miami-Dade Judge's Suicide
These articles were widely circulated in the legal community, triggering a
renewed discussion about how to ensure the mental health of legal professionals - more specifically, judges.
Mental health advocates say judges are particularly vulnerable to stress and
trauma that is often overlooked in conversations about mental health. Judges,
they say, have particularly high-stress jobs, but can be reluctant to get the help
they need.
"Judges can feel isolated and unable to have personal lives because they are
always in the spotlight," says Laurie J. Besden, executive director of Lawyers
Concerned for Lawyers (LCL) in Pennsylvania. "They can have stress from large
dockets and can experience harassment from defendants. They can have vicarious trauma because during the day, they see and hear about terrible things,
and then have to go home and have dinner with their families."
Besden emphasizes that judges may be hesitant to reach out for help because
of concerns about how they would be viewed in legal circles and the community at large should their efforts be discovered.
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"Judges are used to solving problems and making decisions, so what happens
when the problems are their own?" Besden asks.
Mental health advocates and service providers want judges to know that there
are a variety of confidential mental health and wellness services available for
them. "We're here for you," Besden says. "We can lead you down a path of
healing."
Throughout the country, state and local bar associations and other assistance
groups within the legal community have programs and services targeting the
emotional health and wellness of judges. The programs are all confidential;
many offer initial consultations, case management, and peer support.
"Judges can feel like they have to be the leaders - the strong, impartial ones
who can't reach out for help - but as our society becomes more open about
mental health and wellness, that is changing," says Deborah Wood Smith, senior
analyst with the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). "Court systems and bar
associations everywhere are beginning to address the stress for judges head on
with programs on secondary trauma and wellness."
The help offered for judges varies a bit by jurisdiction. Pennsylvania, for
example, has a program with a help line that specifically focuses on judges. LCL
has a long-established mental health outreach program for lawyers, including
judges. But the organization found that judges were reticent to reach out to
assistance programs for lawyers. So, in 2013 LCL established a separate help line
for judges in need of confidential support. These days, LCL provides free mental


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Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Career & Professional Development
Calendar of Events
Goverment & Gavel
Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Feature: The Road to Wellness
Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Global & Domestic Outlook
Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask The Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Career & Professional Development
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Goverment & Gavel
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Fighting the Stigma: The D.C. Bar Lawyer Assistance Program
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 18
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: The Road to Wellness
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Feature: Taking the Stand: How Corporate Monitorships Rein in Misbehavior
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 37
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Worth Reading & Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Ask The Ethics Experts
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 43
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 45
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - January/February 2019 - Cover4
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