Faith in the Courts: A Model for How Court Systems Can Work with Religious Communities

BY: Hon. Juanita Bing Newton, Matthew Weiner, and Moise Waltner*
p.28 – 32 of Judges Journal Vol. 46 No. 4 (Fall 2007).

This article describes how Judge Juanita Bing Newton and her staff in New York have successfully collaborated with the Interfaith Center of New York to reach out to more than 600 religious leaders in New York City to enhance the religious communities’ understanding of the legal system and to help court system personnel understand the diverse communities they serve.

Following a general introduction this article includes the following sections:

Background of the New York State Court System’s Religious Communities Initiative.

Initial Development of the Initiative
Further Development with the Interfaith Center
Phase One: Assessment
Phase Two: Town Hall Meeting
Phase Three: Rountables
Phase Four: Conflict Resolution Training for Religious Leaders
Phase Five: Further Collaborations Between Judges and Religious Communities

The following is quoted from the Conclusion:

“The religious communities and the New York State Courts iniative has proved extremely successful–from the perspectives of both the courts and the religious communities. Recognizing the unique social role that religious leaders play in the lives of their communities, the court system has tapped into this structure to reach communities for positive interactions that might otherwise not occur. The program has provided religious leaders in New York City the opportunity to learn about the court system as well as to engage in a useful two-way discussion. As important, the initiative has informed religious leaders of opportunities for greater involvement of themselves and their congregants in their secular communities…”

__________________________________________ *Hon. Juanita Bing Newton is the Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives of the New York State Unified Court System and Administrative Judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York.

Matthew Weiner is the Director of Program Development at the Interfaith Center of New York and a doctoral candidate at Union Theological Seminary
Moise Waltner is the former Director of Operations at the Interfaith Center of New York.

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