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Specialty Courts

Specialty Courts

Specialty Courts Manager
(775)328-3135
Email: Specialty Courts
James Popovich Bio

Specialty Courts Information and Courtroom Calendars

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Specialty Courts Judges


Judge Archie Blake
Biography
Judge Deborah Schumacher
Biography
Judge Peter Breen
Biography

Adult Drug Court



Adult Drug Court Overview

The Adult Drug Court is the original Specialty Court in the 2nd Judicial District, established in 1995 under the auspices of Judge Peter Breen, following the national model that began in Miami in 1989. The goal of the Adult Drug Court is to engage the drug-addicted criminal offender in intensive therapeutic and judicial intervention, with the goal of reducing further involvement in the criminal justice system. The Court pays for the cost of treatment when clients are initially enrolled in the program although participants are expected to repay the cost of their treatment as they conquer their addiction, gain employment skills, stable housing etc.

The primary drugs of choice in the Adult Drug Court are methamphetamine and alcohol, followed by cocaine, marijuana, and opiates. Many defendants in the Drug Court exhibit co-occurring disorder and those with a severe mental illness are often transferred to the Mental Health Court for more intensive attention to their disability.

The Adult Drug Court provides defendants charged with drug-related crimes with outpatient treatment services and drug testing with the goal of reducing further involvement in the criminal justice system. The program is set up for one year of treatment and six months of Aftercare. (Aftercare clients are still seen by primary counselors when there are issues of relapses, job loss or any other crisis that may occur). The program is set up in five phases; each phase has a different level of intensity. Some clients will require inpatient treatment before continuing their drug court program. The length of time and the requirements can increase depending on how well a client is progressing and meeting treatment goals.

The 2nd Judicial District Court contracts with Bristlecone Family Resources to provide testing, treatment, and case management for Adult Drug Court clients, using a Team approach involving the judge, defense counsel, treatment personnel, court personnel, parole and probation, and the prosecutor as needed.

Educational and vocational services are part of the comprehensive treatment plan. At four months, clients receive an individual life skills assessment through Project CARE and are offered financial literacy classes, pre-employment skills training, and assistance in securing appropriate employment. Assistance in reviewing educational status is provided as needed along with goal setting for furthering each client’s educational goals. The legal structure of the Adult Drug court is bifurcated, according to the class of defendant. It is a post-adjudication, pre-sentencing court for those entering the court before sentencing and it is a post-sentencing court for those who are assigned to the court as a condition of their probation.

Upon acceptance, the entire case is transferred to the Adult Drug Court, to allow the Adult Drug Court Judge to have full jurisdiction over the case, including final disposition. Upon final disposition, the case is closed per normal court procedures. If a defendant is removed from Drug Court he/she is returned to the original Judge for further proceedings.

Diversion Court



Diversion Court Overview

The Diversion Court was established as a Specialty Court in the 2nd Judicial District in February of 2000. The Diversion Court encompasses the statutory definition of diversion in NRS Chapters 453 and 458 as applied to defendants who are designated as alcoholics or addicts by the sentencing court and otherwise meet the requirements of the statutes to be sentenced for up to three years in a court-supervised rehabilitation program. Once a District Court Judge accepts the guilty plea and determines that a defendant qualifies for Diversion Court, the case is referred to the Specialty Courts. Approximately 130 participants each year enroll in the Diversion Court.

The Diversion Court is funded by the defendants themselves who are allowed to choose a provider from a list of Court-approved organizations. (BADA certified). Every defendant is required to attend weekly counseling sessions during the first six months of the program, attend three NA/AA/rational recovery groups per week, and participate in weekly random drug testing. Defendants are required to pay for their treatment and for drug testing.

The Diversion Court allows for close coordination with the other criminal specialty courts. Defendants who do not perform well in the Diversion Court, a less intensive version of Adult Drug Court, may be transferred to the regular Drug Court or to the Mental Health Court if it is determined that the source of the problem is a severe mental illness.

The primary drugs of choice in the Diversion Court are methamphetamine, marijuana and alcohol, followed closely by opiate abuse. The defendants in Diversion Court tend to be involved in the earlier stages of addiction or alcoholism and thus, are more likely to succeed in a less intensive intervention program.

The minimum required length of program for all Diversion Court defendants is 18 months. The last six months of the program, the defendant must be “perfect,” that is, fulfill all testing requirements, attend all required groups, and pay parole and probation supervision fees, counseling fees, and court fees in full.

At the end of the initial orientation, willing and eligible defendants are immediately scheduled for introduction to the Judge in the court session that afternoon. Their case is then processed through the normal court channels.

The defendant is also given a list of BADA-certified substance abuse treatment agencies and selects the provider that best meets his/her needs in terms of location, hours of operation, and cost. The defendant is quickly engaged in the treatment process and begins testing and treatment as soon as practically possible, always before the next Diversion Court appearance in two weeks.

Upon acceptance, the entire case is transferred to the Specialty Courts Division, to allow the Diversion Court Judge to have full jurisdiction over the case, including final disposition. Upon final disposition, the case is closed per normal court procedures.

Family Drug Court




Family Drug Court Overview

The mission of the Family Drug Court is through a collaborative effort, to ensure a child has a safe and nurturing environment by focusing on healthy and sober parenting and permanency planning through family reunification. The Family Drug Court Team features collaboration between the Court, Social Services, substance abuse treatment providers, and community support agencies, including the Foster Grandparent Program.

The 2nd Judicial District has operated the Family Drug Court since 1994, utilizing two tracks, with participants appearing twice a month before the Judge. The Family Drug Court requires an active aftercare plan to encourage ongoing compliance with treatment to maintain sobriety, ensure reunification, and avoid further involvement in the child welfare or family court system.

The Family Drug Court’s target population is substance-abusing parents charged with abuse and/or neglect of their minor children, and their minor children. Participants in the Family Drug Court are almost always clients of public systems of care and assistance. By definition, 100% are involved with the child welfare and the criminal justice systems.

There are several obstacles that hinder the effectiveness of the Family Drug Court. One is the current stream of extremely complex cases as clients rarely present with a “pure” substance abuse problem. Increasingly, our Court has experienced a large number of clients with a high incidence of co-occurring disorders and a mental health system that is under-funded and very difficult to access. If the mental illness is left untreated or ‘undertreated,’ it often jeopardizes the substance abuse treatment and the goal of reunification.

Another aspect of the co-occurring disorder obstacle is the very high incidence of women in the Drug Court who were sexually abused as children, and are now experiencing clinical depression as a result. Many times this childhood trauma has not ever been addressed, but surfaces during the substance abuse treatment program. Self-medication with drugs and/or alcohol is a common response to childhood trauma.

The 2nd Judicial District Court contracts with two treatment providers, Bristlecone Family Resources and Step 2/Lighthouse of the Sierra, to provide testing, treatment, and case management for Family Drug Court clients. The Family Drug Court uses a Team approach involving the judge, defense and prosecution counsel, treatment personnel, court personnel, and integrated services coordination through a unique partnership with the Foster Grandparent program. After care/continuing care is part of the program, as are educational and vocational services.

Juvenile Drug Court




Juvenile Drug Court Overview

The Juvenile Drug Court in the 2nd Judicial District was created in 1994 under the auspices of Judge Deborah Schumacher. The structure of the Juvenile Drug Court was built upon the adult drug court model first established in Florida in 1989 and offers a regimen combining rehabilitation and strict accountability. It requires the juvenile to appear before the court over a longer period of time than is typical of most juvenile court dockets, and it involves substantial participation by family members.

Rehabilitation services in the Juvenile Drug Court are provided in the form of drug testing, counseling (both individual and group), family therapy and parenting education, transitional housing, recreational therapy, and aftercare.

The Juvenile Drug Court requires a minimum stay of nine months before graduation. Most defendants average a 12 month length of stay including aftercare. The Court contracts with a local treatment provider, Quest Counseling, for seventeen treatment slots. The primary drugs of choice in the Juvenile Drug Court are methamphetamine, alcohol, and marijuana, followed by cocaine and opiate abuse. Many juveniles are experiencing significant problems in their education as well as family conflicts, poor peer relations, and on-going difficulties within the delinquency arena.

Over the past few years, a major trend has been documented in the Juvenile Drug Court concerning juvenile offenders with serious mental health problems. It has become increasingly apparent that a substantial number of youth referred to the Juvenile Drug Court have not received adequate ongoing care for a severe emotional disturbance. These youth are often failing at school and experience serious difficulties in the substance abuse treatment environment. Although the Court has attempted to address these needs through a specialized case plan, it has been determined that more intensive mental health services are needed to fully understand the scope of the problem and needed services.

For these reasons, Juvenile Services and the Court sought additional private sector funding to implement Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT), an intensive community and family-based program, delivered by a team of masters level (or higher) therapists who have multiple contacts with the youth, family and extra-familial systems each week. MDFT targets factors that lead to and sustain substance use and related conduct problems and juvenile delinquency. The intervention consists of three stages:

  1. Comprehensive assessment of problem areas and pockets of untapped or underutilized strength.
  2. Working phase where significant change attempts are made within and across interlocking subsystems (individual, family, peers, schools etc.).
  3. Sealing the changes and preparing the youth and family for using new knowledge, experience and skills.

The intervention includes individual sessions with each youth to address difficulties in school, at home, legal problems and relationship concerns; family sessions to address conflict and improve communication and problem-solving; parent sessions to improve parenting skills and address parental health and well-being; extra-familial systems to include probation, schools, court and community-service.

The Juvenile Drug Court participants are screened by Washoe County Juvenile Services and its contracted treatment provider, Quest Counseling and then brought to the entire Juvenile Drug Court Team for review. Youth with identified substance abuse and mental health issues are ordered into the Juvenile Drug Court, usually as a condition of their juvenile probation. Each youth is assigned to the caseload of one of the juvenile probation officers assigned to the Drug Court and all are supervised by the Juvenile Drug Court’s Pretrial Services Officer.

The Juvenile Drug Court is a post-adjudication, post-sentencing court. Youth are typically assigned to complete the Juvenile Drug Court program as a condition of their probation. The minimum required length of program for all Juvenile Drug Court defendants is nine months. Most youth spend an average of 12 months in the program, with a specific aftercare plan that is individualized for each participant.

Upon acceptance into the Juvenile Drug Court, the entire case is transferred to the Juvenile Court Judge to have full jurisdiction over the case, including final disposition. Upon final disposition, the case is closed per normal court procedures.

Juveniles with serious mental illness are case managed by the Juvenile Drug Court Pretrial Services Officer, Misty Sanchez, who is specially trained in education access issues. She attends all court staffings and court hearings to report progress on the court’s orders for mental health care and coordinates closely with public and private community providers to facilitate access to mental health care in residential and outpatient facilities.

Expulsion from the Juvenile Drug Court is at the sole discretion of the Judge and typically occurs if a defendant shows little or no motivation to succeed after repeated efforts by the Team to motivate improved performance. Chronic and persistent illegal drug use and/or repeated failure to comply with even minimal treatment requirements may lead to expulsion from the program through a dishonorable discharge or remand to the juvenile court for a probation revocation or commitment to a state youth training facility.

Prison Reentry Court



Prison Re-Entry Court Overview

The Prison Re-Entry Court in the 2nd Judicial District began as one of the nation’s first two federally funded Re-Entry Courts, operating in Clark County (Las Vegas) and Washoe County (Reno). The goal of the Re-Entry Court is to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders in prison by providing them with intensive supervision and treatment in an effort to break the cycle of crime associated with drug use.

The Re-Entry “Early Release” Program was created by the state Legislature in 1999 on the recommendation of Governor Kenny Guinn. It was created by statute (NRS 209.4311 - 209.4317). Originally, inmates with one prior felony conviction were allowed to participate in the program, making it very difficult to find candidates who qualified. An amendment to the law during the 2001 legislative session (AB 574) opened the program to inmates with up to four prior non-violent felony convictions, significantly increasing the number of eligible participants. Further changes were made in the 2007 Legislative session which may lead to even more eligible participants, and possibly additional funding to serve them.

Currently, participants must be within two years of probable release from prison, have a history of drug addiction, and be a nonviolent offender. They must be able to secure fulltime employment or participate in a full-time educational or vocational training program. Program participants must fully cooperate in the court-supervised program that provides intensive supervision, drug testing, graduated sanctions and other rehabilitative efforts in areas such as education, medical services, housing, and employment.

The Prison Re-Entry Court operates under the Adult Drug Court model with one exception: each prisoner is required to live for four months in a transitional living facility to ensure that re-integration into society proceeds at a measured pace. The cost of living in the facility must be borne by the participant. The Court pays for the cost of treatment when clients are initially enrolled in the program although participants are expected to repay the cost of their treatment as they progress through the program.

Educational and vocational services are part of the comprehensive treatment plan, and participants are offered financial literacy classes, pre-employment skills training, and assistance in securing appropriate employment. Assistance in reviewing educational status is provided along with goal setting for furthering each client’s educational goals. Each Prison Re-Entry Drug Court defendant must complete at least a year in the program, with “good behavior,” (no illegal substance use or missed appointments) during the 90 days prior to graduation. Six months of Continuing Care is required with random drug tests according to the Judge’s order and at least monthly appearances in Court.

Expulsion from the Drug Court is at the sole discretion of the Judge and typically occurs if a defendant shows little or no motivation to succeed after repeated efforts by the Team to motivate improved performance. Chronic and persistent illegal drug use and/or repeated failure to comply with even minimal treatment requirements may lead to expulsion from the program and an immediate return to prison.