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judicial stress, mental and physical health, secondary trauma


Health Law and Policy | Judges | Law


Judges have always faced significant stressors, including the burden of consequential decision-making, exposure to disturbing evidence, and isolation. While every judicial assignment has its own mix of concerns, challenge is a constant. Recurrent experiences of serious stressors place judges at risk of burn-out, secondary trauma, poor mental and physical health, and substance use disorders.

Historically, such issues have been addressed primarily in the context of judicial fitness - that is, only when individual judges were suffering to the degree that they could no longer competently perform their duties would the system respond, and then usually for the purpose of discipline or removal.

In recent years, though, the focus has shifted. Judicial leaders, health professionals, judge and lawyer assistance programs, and social scientists have called for broader, nonpunitive attention to the stressors faced by all judges, not only those who have become impaired.



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