Bucks Writs - Summer 2019 - 11

When she no longer dons
her legal robe, Judge Boylan
envisions using her life
experiences and professional
background - as a middle
school teacher, lawyer,
community leader, and jurist -
to advocate and work for change
in a way one cannot do as a
judge. She would also consider
teaching, especially in the field
of trial advocacy.

"long view," these costs - often involving the break-up
of families, addiction and mental health treatment -
can persist for many years. Prevention and diversion can
help cut down on the economic and noneconomic costs
of incarceration.
When I asked Judge Boylan what advice she might be
willing to offer the three new judges who will be joining
the Court, she said the most important quality they will
need is the willingness to listen. Over the years, she's
learned things from nearly every person with whom she
comes into contact. Recently, she heard a defendant in
Drug Court say that every night as he lies in bed, he listens
to a tape on how to avoid falling back into addiction.
After hearing about that, she offered that advice to a
juvenile who was searching for ways to prevent relapsing.
There were certainly challenging moments in the course of
her career. When asked to identify her most difficult cases,
she immediately brought up death penalty cases that
she had presided over. She also mentioned dependency
and family law matters as especially difficult since you
often have to deal with complex emotional issues
where a judge's decision can reverberate in families for
generations to come.

Moreover, risk assessment is key. Although it remains an
inexact science, the tools for trying to determine whether
a defendant poses a substantial risk to the community
have improved over the past twenty years.
In addition to developing alternatives to incarceration
for those addicted to drugs, Judge Boylan also believes
that society needs to work on prevention. It has been
her experience that many addicts are people who have
been marginalized by society and turn to drugs and/
or alcohol as a means of self-medicating. The key is to
develop better tools to identify those people who will be
particularly susceptible to relying on drugs later in life.
Just because a child is not "acting out" in school and
creating a discipline problem does not mean that they are
not at risk. If you were to talk to most middle school or
high school students, they would probably be able to tell
you which kids in their class seem the most marginalized.
Young people who harbor feelings of being left out or
disregarded are most vulnerable to getting involved with
illicit substances.

But she also recalled gratifying moments that arose when
she least expected. For example, she recently received a
letter from a juvenile who had appeared before her some
years ago, in which he outlined how his life had changed
for the better after she seemed to genuinely take an
interest in him and helped him to understand that in the
end, he had to be held accountable for his own actions.
Despite some of the sad stories she's seen over the years,
Judge Boylan is grateful for having had the opportunity
to see many people recover from drug addiction and
maintain their recovery for years afterwards.
She says that being a judge is a wonderful job because
you get the chance to try and do the right thing every
day. While lawyers, who, as advocates, often have to plan
their strategy based upon their clients' desires, a judge
can make their decision based on what they believe is
the right thing to do. To Judge Boylan, the ability to do
this is "freeing." At the end of the day, those fortunate
enough to become judges must define who they are and
what type of judge they want to be. Judge Boylan hopes
that after she's left the bench, she will be remembered as
someone who was honest and fair, compassionate, and
firm when required. And, most importantly, that she was a
good listener. 

It's also Judge Boylan's view that public institutions such
as jails and prisons have become the de facto treatment
facilities for our mentally ill population. She believes
that society tends to mistakenly view incarceration as
a more expedient and less expensive remedy for those
with mental illnesses and addictions. Yet the reality is
that the costs involved with putting someone in jail are
much more extensive than many realize. When taking the




Bucks Writs - Summer 2019

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