News - Capital University Law School

CapLaw Represents: Judge Paul Herbert Gives Victims Opportunity

6/6/2018  - 

Judge Paul Herbert, L’87, is a Judge in Franklin County Municipal Court and the founder of an innovative program known as CATCH (Changing Actions to Change Habits) court. Judge Herbert is well qualified to help implement systemic changes in the judicial system. Prior to becoming a judge, Paul was in private practice for a short period of time and then joined the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, where he served as a trial attorney. He later became the Chief of Staff for the Franklin County Municipal Court Clerk’s Office. In 1996, he became the Clerk of Municipal Court, where he served for seven years before being elected to the bench in 2003.

Judge Herbert is a leader in Ohio judicial reform and he is helping to change the view nationwide about the proper handling of the crime of sex trafficking. He recognized that childhood victimization and consequential substance abuse issues are most often underlying factors in prostitution and came up with an innovative solution that addresses the basic causes of this pervasive problem.

In September, 2009, Judge Herbert implemented CATCH, a specialized restorative justice program focusing on victims of human trafficking who have been charged with misdemeanor solicitation. The focus of CATCH court is to require treatment for the substance abuse that often underlies prostitution and undermines opportunities for job preparedness. The program has been a resounding success by all accounts, from lowering recidivism, reducing costs to the county, and helping these women, often victims of crime themselves, escape from a dangerous and predatory lifestyle.

Instead of continually cycling soliciting defendants through the system as criminals who break the law willingly, CATCH Court recognizes them as victims in need of help. Instead of once a month probation meetings, for some, they are once a day. There are weekly court hearings as well as gender-specific, trauma-based counseling, and drug and alcohol treatment. They also have rules designed to remove them from the human trafficking cycle. There are parts of town they can't go and people they can't see.

Judge Herbert is convinced that recognizing that these women are victims in need of assistance, not criminals deserving punishment, is essential to addressing the human trafficking problem. "After CATCH court, they're going to college, they're getting valid driver's licenses, they're paying taxes, they're being reunited with their families, they're giving back to their community. That's what justice ought to be about," said Herbert.

Through CATCH, women have been given a safe path to exit a destructive lifestyle and begin contributing to their communities in significant ways. The CATCH program provides a non-adversarial approach to defendants who have pled guilty to loitering, solicitation, prostitution, and other crimes where the defendant has been the victim of human trafficking. The defendant agrees to 2 years of probation and to adhere to the treatment plan that was designed uniquely for the individual including: residential treatment, counseling, random drug screens, and a weekly CATCH status review hearing. The program currently serves over 50 survivors. For more information on the CATCH court, please visit their website:

Judge Herbert is the third generation of lawyers and judges in his family. He holds a Bachelor degree from The Ohio State University and is from Dublin, Ohio. He is married and has 2 daughters.

A few favorites:

  • Favorite book: Les Miserables 
  • Favorite movie: Outlaw Josey Wales  
  • Favorite local restaurant: Tony’s
  • My indulgence: Exercise 
  • My escape: Painting – “I just started to paint since the rest of my body has fallen apart!”
  • My favorite quote: "We owe to the Middle Ages the two worst inventions of humanity - romantic love and gunpowder." - André Maurois

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