top of page
A Visit to Queens Treatment Courts with Hon. Marcia P. Hirsch presiding

On July 6th, 2023 Prosecutor Ta Lin (林達) from Taiwan Taipei District Prosecutors Office together with TADTP Deputy Secretary Chief Nancy Liu (劉佳穎) and TADTP Head Researcher Mojca Babovič (白茉雅) visited Queens Specialty Courts at Queens County Supreme Court in New York City. 

We were invited and warmly welcomed by Hon. Marcia P. Hirsch together with other distinguished legal professionals from the Queens County Supreme Court. The purpose of our visit was twofold: to understand first-hand how Queens Treatment Court (QTC) operates, as well as to widen our professional and social circles for future beneficial opportunities.  

Hon. Marica P. Hirsch has presided over Queens Treatment Courts (at present includes drug diversion, mental health, DWI, and veteran program) for more than 18 years and has abundant experience in presiding over programs that offer court-directed supervision and mandated treatment services. We were extremely honored to be seated in the jury box, to be a part of daily court hearings and “see a little bit of everything,” as Hon. Hirsch explained, including online hearings for those unable to attend in person.


We witnessed Hon. Hirsch communicating directly with each defendant who came before her. Rather than letting court order to speak for itself or trust that defenders would review the details of the court process, Hon. Hirsch was very present, looked every defendant in the eye, asking: “Mr.x how have you been? How is your therapy going? Have you returned to work? What is your next plan?  What are you doing with your free time? How are you doing with staying away with ‘old people, places, and situations’?” The inquiry was well thought through, considering how before every court appearance, Hon. Hirsch gets all the necessary information from the court team. So, when the defendant appears, she already knows all the details, including the results of urine tests, attendance history at the treatment program, concerns of treatment staff and even such details as to defendant becoming a new proud basketball couch to a group of fellow treatment participants.


Because Hon. Hirsch retains a case from indictment through post-disposition, she truly gets to know the defendants – and they get to know her. By frequently bringing defendants back to court for monitoring, Hon. Hirsch sends a message that she is personally interested in the case and that she is closely following the defendant's compliance. 

That morning she was extremely proud of one of the defendants who got to finally graduate from the program. “Are you ready to leave us today?"  she asked kindly.   "Do you remember the last time you have been here when you came back after a while and you said just sentence me, I do not want to be here (…) and so how has your life turned around since then?” we heard her say. She was happy to hear from the defendant that it was the constant support from the program and the court team that put him back on track, help him rebuild trust with his close ones and lead him to become and stay sober. To this she was only reassuring: “I am very glad that you gave the program a chance, actually you did all the hard work.”

To defendants who were doing well, Hon. Hirsch offered boundless encouragement. But to those who have repeatedly failed, less so. One of the defendants who did not to comply with the court's treatment plan and was rearrested for a felony gun charge, gave her no other choice but to terminate him from the program with a sentence of one year in prison (this deducted from current felony charge).  After reading the case she firmly asked: " Would you like to make a statement before I read the sentence?" and responding to disengaged silent defendant she finished the case with " I hope you take advantage of any programs that are offered to you while you are in incarcerated and good luck and take care."

Later she explained to us, that the defended has been in and out of the criminal system for more than 4 years, and that she would not terminate him if gun charges were not imposed. “It is a 2019 case so you can see we gave him a lot of time to work with us (…) people who want to work with us we keep” she calmly noted. Termination was actually a collaborative decision and not just Hon. Hirsch but everyone involved in this case showed disappointment and frustration. 

Above are only snippets of the court hearing we were part of, yet what we saw in such short time is the potential of QTC to increase judicial access to information, to offer the accountability of both participants and service providers, and bring new resources and treatment opportunities into the courthouse. Above all, we saw how a problem-solving judge is not merely someone who delivers final judgement based on available facts, but also an active participant in proceeding who is trying objectively and subtly support participants on their recovery path. All the qualities we are hoping to slowly introduce and instill in Taiwan judicial system.  

bottom of page