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Editorial


Front Page - Friday, June 30, 2017

Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit allots $148K for felony drug court




Lookout Mountain Judicial District Chief Judge Kristina Cook Graham says the State of Georgia has fully funded the circuit’s request of $148,166 to plan and implement the region’s first drug court.

Over the last several months, Judge Graham and Judge Don Thompson have established a working team to make plans for the new court. Judge Thompson will preside over the Court, while Judge Graham will preside in his absence or in cases that may require his recusal.

Deanna Reisman and Vickie Clark of the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit district attorney’s office have been appointed to serve as prosecutors, while David Dunn and Amber Connell of the circuit’s public defender’s office will provide defense counsel.

A drug court coordinator will soon be hired to oversee the entire program and coordinate team efforts. In addition, the working team is consulting with various treatment providers. Once the team is established, they will receive extensive training from the State of Georgia at the Council for Accountability Court Judges Annual Training Conference in Athens, Georgia.

Judge Graham says, “The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Adult Felony Drug Court will address the needs of habitual users. Using a team approach that includes weekly court appearances, random drug screenings, comprehensive treatment and vocational and educational efforts, those completing the program have a strong likelihood of abstaining from drugs and alcohol use and avoiding further criminal prosecution.”

Judge Thompson recently attended the Georgia Council for Superior Court Judges Accountability and Treatment Courts Committee retreat. In addition, members of the team have visited several Accountability Court programs to observe methods and procedures, including those in the Conasauga Circuit (Dalton) and the Northeastern Circuit (Gainesville).

Judge Graham recently attended a conference in Atlanta entitled “Drugs in America: What Every Judge Needs to Know,” which focused on the science of addiction and the proper medical and judicial responses to the challenges of addiction. Next month, she will attend the National Association of Drug Court Personnel Conference in Washington, D.C., the world’s largest conference on accountability treatment courts.

Judge Graham said, “This is a game changer for many people in our circuit. We have an opportunity here to save lives and restore families by breaking the cycle of addiction and preventing further criminal activity in our communities.”

The Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Felony Adult Drug Court will be accessible to citizens of Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade and Walker Counties. Court proceedings will be conducted weekly at the Walker County Courthouse, where Judge Thompson’s chambers are located.

Applicants for the program will be screened soon. The Court hopes to serve up to 70 individuals at a time.

Judge Graham said, “We know that this will have a huge impact on those coming before the Court for adjudication. We believe this program will save lives, and we couldn’t be more excited.”

For additional information about the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Adult Felony Accountability Court, contact Judge Graham at judgegraham@lmjc.net or Judge Thompson at judgethompson@gmail.com.

Source: Derryberry Public Relations