Enhancing Court Access

Trauma-informed courts

Trauma-informed courts are helpful in preventing or mitigating re-traumatization among survivors. At Esperanza United, we collaborate with partners that implement trauma-formed practices to better serve survivors accessing institutions such as courts.  As a leader in defining trauma-informed approaches, Esperanza United and our culturally-specific partners expand the definition of “trauma-informed” for Latin@ communities and gender-based violence responders. Trauma is a courtroom issue and we strive to improve court systems by creating greater access to survivors of color.

Human trafficking

This resource by Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center (OVCTTAC) focuses on human trafficking, the role of the courts, court stakeholders, ethical considerations, and innovative court responses. Trauma-informed courts are helpful in preventing or mitigating re-traumatization when serving survivors.

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Create a trauma-informed court

In this guest opinion essay, “Trauma-informed courts: How to create one and why you should” by Juvenile Justice Exchange,  Brenidy Rice and Judge Ann Gail Meinster discuss how to create a trauma-informed court and its importance. Esperanza United strives to collaborate with partners that work towards implementing trauma-formed practices to better serve survivors accessing institutions such as courts. 

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Judicial practice

This resource, “Essential components of trauma-informed judicial practice”,  from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), defines trauma, its impact, and how to apply trauma-informed approaches in the courtroom. As a leader in defining trauma and trauma-informed approaches, SAMHSA resources have helped Esperanza United expand what being trauma-informed means for Latin@ communities accessing our services and the services of other gender-based violence responders. 

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Promoting access to justice 

This article, “Promoting access to justice through trauma-informed courts”, from Policy Research Associates, discusses how trauma is a courtroom issue and failure to understand that can lead to adverse impacts on individuals accessing the courts. The article also discusses how the “high correlation between substance use, mental health disorders, and lifetime trauma exposure is even stronger among individuals who are justice involved.” The article also goes into topics and approaches such as spotting and accommodating executive functioning deficits and considerations for becoming trauma-informed. 

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This article, “Retraumatized in Court,” by Negar Katirai, Clinical Professor of Law; Director, Domestic Violence Law Clinic from the University of Arizona, focuses on how courts are the first to propose cross-cultural communication to improve the quality of justice for survivors of intimate partner violence. Critical to this is employing behaviors of cross-cultural communication to better prepare survivors for how retraumatizing the legal system can be and expanding the services provided by legal services organizations, including law school clinics, to include supportive services such as case management and counseling.

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Case study

This case study featured in the American Bar Association is about building a trauma-informed court in Memphis, Tennessee. It focuses on a court that is part of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ implementation courts. Implementation courts do a lot of cutting-edge work to improve court practice for children and families. The article goes over four topic areas: changing court culture, improving the court atmosphere, reducing the trauma of coming to courts, and assessing and responding to family trauma. 

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