U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Judicial Bench Card

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2019
8 pages
This "Judicial Bench Card" provides sample questions for a judge to ask in her/his interaction with a drug court participant at various stages of her/his participation in court programming.
Sample "general questions" pertain to what the participant can do to maintain sobriety, what new activities she/he has incorporated into her/his life, what community activities the participant can access for support, and what challenges the participant has faced and how the challenges have been handled. Other general question suggestions relate to recent ways used to stay sober, the meaning of responsibility, hobbies or activities enjoyed, and work or school barriers to change. Other questions focus on community resources for long-term recovery, health issues, and short/long-term recovery goals. Another set of judicial questions relate to the final phase of the drug court program. They focus on support after finishing the court program, how to handle urges to use drugs, and the identification of challenges and how to address them. Questions related to relapse prevention focus on the identification and management of relapse triggers, development of a relapse-prevention plan, current stage of change, motivations for not changing behaviors, what facilitates sobriety, the benefits of sobriety, and how the court can facilitate long-term beneficial behavioral change. Judicial questions related to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) pertain to the focus of counseling sessions, how certain thoughts are obstructing desired behavioral goals, and what has been learned to help change personal thinking errors. Remaining judicial questions relate to traumatic experiences (without asking about specific trauma experienced) and measures for feeling safe.

Date Published: February 1, 2019