As a nurse, Carol Wolven–Connecticut’s new chief administrative judge of juvenile matters–looked beyond illnesses to meet her patients’ needs. Taking a “holistic approach” pushed her to learn more about her patients as individuals, including their backgrounds and the environments in which they were living, says the Hartford Courant. When her nursing-turned-law career landed her on the bench in 2001, Wolven used what she learned in nursing school to deal with dockets full of family heartache and troubled youths. Wolven said sees the courts taking the same approach when it comes to juvenile offenders.
“They don’t look at a kid in isolation and say, ‘This kid punched this other kid, period,” Wolven said. “They look at this kid in terms of, ‘OK, what’s going on with this kid? Does he have any underlying issues? Does he have any psychiatric or mental-health issues? What’s his upbringing like? Does he get breakfast every day? Does he go to school?'” Getting answers to those questions, Wolven said, isn’t always easy and often requires the efforts of many, including lawyers, probation officers, advocacy groups and social workers — people she said are all “stakeholders” in a juvenile case. Colleagues said Wolven’s background in both juvenile and family court, as well as her work as a registered nurse, provide her with the experience she needs for a demanding assignment.