Monday, January 11, 2010

North Dakota Supreme Court News

Friday, Jan. 8, 2010
Happy Birthday, Drug Court!
The state's first adult drug court will be nine years old this week, and there's going to be a party!

District Judge Gail Hagerty will be honored at this year's event. She has been part of the drug court team since the planning stages and has promoted drug courts in North Dakota. District Judge Bruce Haskell, who is the lead judge for the South Central Drug Court, said that Governor John and First Lady Mikey Hoeven, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle, Michelle Gayette, Rep. Ron Carlisle, and Senator Byron Dorgan have been honored as North Dakota leaders who have supported drug court programs.

The South Central Judicial District Drug Court began operation on January 5, 2001, and a celebration of the achievements of the first nine years will be held Friday morning (January 8) at 8:30 at the Burleigh County Courthouse in Bismarck. The party will be hosted by the Bruce M. VanSickle Inn of Court, a group of lawyers and judges who strive toward excellence and civility in the practice of law.

The Drug Court has 19 participants at the present time. All the participants are non-violent, chemically addicted individuals who have pleaded guilty to drug or alcohol offenses. The program was planned and initiated through the leadership of the Department of Corrections.

Ninety-one people have successfully completed the program. One-hundred sixty-three have been involved in the program—117 men and 46 women. Seventy-nine were sentenced to Drug Court as part of a driving-under-the-influence sentence, seventy-seven were sentenced for drug offenses, and seven were sentenced for drug-related felony offenses.

Participants attend court sessions each week and are involved in intensive treatment and probation programs. They are tested for drug and alcohol use several times each week. They are required to work, attend school, or do community service forty hours each week.

Court sessions often begin with a speaker. Prosecutors, defense attorneys, police officers, pastors, treatment providers, and others who have worked with chemically addicted people have spoken to the group.

Each participant makes an appearance each time they appear in court and discusses their progress with the judge. Participants move through three phases of the drug court program and earn incentives as they progress. During the later phases, the number of court appearances and the intensity of supervision decrease. A minimum of a year in the program is required for commencement.

District Judges Bruce Haskell and Gail Hagerty are the drug court judges. Penny Blotsky is the probation officer for the program, and Michelle Gayette coordinates treatment services, which are provided through West Central Human Services.

Jan. 5, 2010

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