West Virginia Judiciary

Adult Treatment Courts History

 

History of Adult Treatment Courts in West Virginia


First Adult Drug Court

The first adult treatment court was established in the Northern Panhandle, in Brooke, Hancock, Ohio, and Marshall Counties on August 1, 2005. First Judicial Circuit Judge Martin Gaughan volunteered to be the administering drug court judge to pilot the program, with then-Second Judicial Circuit Judge John Madden volunteering as drug court judge in Marshall County. Magistrates David Buzzard of Marshall County, Charles Murphy of Ohio County, William Hicks of Hancock County, and the late Deborah Lunsford of Brooke County volunteered to act as drug court magistrates.

West Virginia’s first adult drug court was implemented with grant funding of $450,000 over three years from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Lee Day Report Centers, directed by Fred McDonald, and with significant assistance by Probation Officer Jim Lee, became a central component of services for the adult drug courts, providing a model that would later be carried across the state of collaboration of day report centers and adult drug courts.

From its inception, the Northern Panhandle Drug Court operated as both a pre- and post-adjudication drug court to make its services available to the widest possible eligible offender groups, including pre-trial diversion, post-plea, and probation violators who were substance abusers or addicted. It operated as a hybrid DUI and drug court and operated both circuit court and magistrate court drug courts across the geographic region.

The drug court divided in 2009 between the First and Second Judicial Circuits with Judge Hummel administering a separate regional drug court for Marshall, Wetzel, and Tyler Counties.

For current and additional information on these programs, see the specific sections on Northern Panhandle Treatment Courts, First and Second Circuits, on this site.


Southern Region Drug Court

In 2004, a team of collaborators led by Ninth Judicial Circuit (Mercer County) Judge Derek Swope applied for and obtained a one-year planning grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance to train a drug court team and plan start-up of a drug court in Mercer County. Subsequently, in 2005 a $450,000 Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance three-year implementation grant was obtained by the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia for start-up of the state’s second adult drug court.

Judge Swope was instrumental in the implementation of the new drug court, which opened on January 9, 2006. He volunteered as administering drug court judge for the project. Mercer County Magistrate Michael D. Flanigan volunteered to serve as the drug court magistrate for the new program. The then-Mercer County Day Reporting Center (later renamed Southern Region Day Reporting Center) directed by Steve Collins worked with the new Southern Region Drug Court to provide a central location for treatment and supervision services, including provision of case managers and support services for the drug court. As in all drug court planning and implementation, community collaboration was critical to the project. Numerous people from Mercer County were extremely helpful, including the County Commission and then Prosecutor William Sadler, who later was elected to the circuit court and became a drug court judge.

In 2009 the drug court was expanded to allow participation of offenders from Summers, Monroe, McDowell, and Wyoming Counties. Circuit Judges Sadler and Omar Aboulhosn became drug court judges and Mercer County Magistrate Richard Fowler became a drug court magistrate. Hundreds of substance abusing and addicted offenders have benefited from the Southern Region Drug Court, and the drug court holds the distinction of having the first drug-free baby born to a recovering offender in a drug court in West Virginia.

For more information please see the section on Southern Region Drug Court on this site.


West Central Regional Drug Court

Following the successes of the first two adult drug courts, expansion efforts were undertaken through the Supreme Court’s Division of Mental Hygiene Services. A $135,563 grant was obtained from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources in fiscal year 2007. The grant was used for continuing costs for existing treatment courts, to train additional drug court teams across the state in preparation for new drug court start-ups, and to fund the actual start-up of West Virginia’s third drug court, centered in the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Wood and Wirt Counties, locally administered by Circuit Judge Jeffrey Reed. The Wood County Commission also provided financial support for start-up costs of the West Central Regional Drug Court, which opened on July 7, 2007.

The West Central Regional Drug Court expanded in 2008 to include the Third Judicial Circuit and later expanded to include participants from Jackson County. As in all prior drug court implementations, opening this drug court would not have been possible without local and state collaborators working together, including judiciary, prosecutors, defense counsel, day reporting centers, treatment providers, county commissions, probation, and other collaborators.

For more information on the full complement of West Virginia drug courts, please see the individual sections of each drug court by clicking here.