November 28, 2016

From Mandy Davis, LCSW, PhD, Co-Director, Trauma Informed Oregon

Working Toward a Trauma Informed Judicial System

There is no shortage of work to be done for our judicial system to be trauma informed (TI) but I am continually amazed by those who have been doing this work and who are embracing this challenge throughout Oregon. Thank you to Judge Greif and Pam Patton for sharing their efforts in applying trauma informed care. Below I have included other “happenings” that have been shared with me:

  • Training and education for staff throughout judicial systems: Marion County Juvenile Department is currently finishing up a series of training on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), adolescent brain development, and Trauma Informed Care (TIC); Trauma Informed Oregon is sharing TIC information at legal conferences and meetings.
  • Projects are taking time to incorporate knowledge about brain science, trauma, and equity and inclusion into current practices and making necessary modifications.
  • Judges in Multnomah County have hosted two Listening Sessions to hear from the community about their perceptions of justice in our court system. There was a variety of feedback, but the majority was related to experiences of racial and ethnic disparities in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.
  • The Department of Community Justice developed Peer Trauma Support. The purpose of the team is to provide timely and confidential assistance, support, and referrals to fellow employees in times of personal need or due to traumatic events.

I also want to take a moment to share a judicial practice called Procedural Fairness. I began learning about this through various court related projects and the connection to TIC was clear.

Procedural Fairness

Procedural Fairness describes the idea that how individuals regard the justice system is tied more to the perceived fairness of the process and how they were treated rather than to the perceived fairness of the outcome [1].


I don’t have the expertise (or space) to describe this practice thoroughly but I encourage those interested to seek more knowledge because it does a good job operationalizing TIC principles for judicial settings (e.g., make eye contact, introduce yourself). As this work evolves I am aware of the need to better connect the dots between the “lenses” we are asking systems to use such as TIC, restorative justice, resilience, equity and inclusion, and developmental brain science. The overlap of Procedural Fairness and TIC principles is an example of how existing practices are already TI and it is our job to make the connections. We are working on ways to visually connect the dots and will share them with you for your feedback and use.

Efforts Underway

I know there are many other great efforts underway related to the judicial system that are not mentioned here, we hope you will share your work with us. Here are a few websites you might find useful.

[1] Tyler, 2006, Burke & Leben 2007