ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF KEY DRUG COURT TEAM MEMBERS
The Judge is central to the overall success of the drug court program. The participant talks directly with the judge instead of through counsel. It is during this time that the judge lets the offender know what is expected of him/her regarding the program and recovery process, the legal aspects of the program (if the person fails the drug court or decides to “drop-out”), and will provide the sanctions and rewards as needed.
The Prosecutor is responsible for screening the offenders for eligibility into the drug court. Once an arrest is made, they review the charges, determine if the offender is eligible and talks to the offender about “volunteering” for the drug court. If the offender agrees to participate, the prosecutor may be responsible for explaining the program and having them sign locally required waivers for entry into the program. Once in the courtroom, the prosecutor is a non-adversarial player in the process.
The Defense Attorney, while remaining in a non-adversarial role with the prosecuting attorney, works with the client to discuss the option of the drug court program and works in the best interest of the client. It is important that the defense attorney assists with the reinforcement of the person’s successful recovery. If the person is failing the program, the attorney should let the person know what they will be facing regarding the criminal charges if they do fail the program.
The Probation and Parole Officer will handle the intensive supervision of the client. They will act as liaison between the treatment provider and the court by coordinating the activities and schedule of the client. They will provide case management duties to assist clients with the services needed in the holistic approach to success. Reports will be required of the diversion manager (probation and parole officer) by each court date. The diversion manager will be a key member of the drug court team and is required to attend all drug court dates and staffing prior to court.
The Treatment Provider will be responsible for providing all necessary treatment services for the client or be able to refer (with approval of the court) to special treatment services as needed. One treatment professional will be assigned to provide the initial assessment of the client prior to the first court appearance. Another person will be responsible for providing the treatment services. Reports from the treatment provider will be required by each court date. The provider will be a key member of the drug court team and is required to attend all drug court dates and staffing prior to court.
Court Clerks are key players in the process. Without a court clerk handling the files of all drug court participants and keeping the records organized, many drug courts would not function so well.
Evaluator and/or MIS person is responsible for data collection and working on internal evaluation or program evaluation products for use by the drug court program. The information they collect will allow the program to identify problems or areas of concern so the team can make necessary adjustments to the program. Some programs have an independent evaluator on the team during the planning stage. Many universities will work with the drug court as part of their studies and use graduate interns for this piece.
Children’s division social worker is critical for family drug courts. The mission of family services includes family preservation. They have the ability to assist professionally with social work skills and provide services to the families in the drug court program. The case manager conducts home visits and monitors children’s placements. Additionally, the case manager attends and submits written reports for all hearings in the underlying dependency case. The case manager also completes documentation requirements and data collection reports.
Law Enforcement Officers can be a great help to all types of drug courts. Community policing and school resource officers have expanded the accountability of the drug court system. Community police officers are able to make home visits, provide BAC testing and provide the eyes and ears on the streets. School resource officers are able to help in juvenile and family drug court settings by providing insight to the team about the youth’s school behavior and activities. They can also provide support in the school setting for the participant.
The Juvenile Officer may play dual roles in the juvenile drug court. They may supervise the case and also play the same role as the prosecutor in the adult drug court. This means that the juvenile officer would be the individual who initially screens the case to determine eligibility into the drug court program, and may also screen for program suitability. It is recommended that an attorney be present in the drug court to represent the defense side of the system. Again, the attorney would not be “representing” the client regarding criminal charges, but would assist with the drug court process.
School Officials can include school resource officers or counselors that have an insight as well as an ability to help in a juvenile drug court.
The Drug Court Administrator plays a vital role with drug courts from the planning to evaluation stages. This person is the one who maintains the overall coordination of activities of the drug court. Responsibilities include finding funds for operation, writing RFPs and contracts for services, providing insight into the daily operations of the drug courts for better processing and assist the team with on-going issues as they arise.
Guardian Ad Litems (GAL) are appointed by the Judge in every case involving an abused or neglected child which results in a judicial proceeding to appear for and represent the child. The GAL shall be fully informed of all aspects of the case and be provided with all reports relevant to the case. The GAL attends FDTC admission and pre-court staffings, FDTC hearings, and underlying dependency case hearings and family support team meetings.
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is appointed to every case in FDTC. The CASA is a trained volunteer who provides the Court with relevant information regarding the children’s wellbeing in FDTC proceedings and dependency hearings. The CASA submits a written report to the Court for hearings in the underlying dependency case. CASA case managers participate in FDTC staffings and hearings; volunteers attend as available.
Deputy Juvenile Officers (DJO) conduct child abuse and neglect investigations with child protective services and law enforcement officials and file petitions taking protective custody of children who have been abused and neglected. When a DJO files a petition alleging parental substance abuse as an underlying cause of child abuse or neglect, the DJO provides referral information to the FDTC Coordinator. The DJO provides court case management services in the underlying dependency case and may attend FDTC staffings and hearings as available. In Juvenile drug court, the deputy juvenile officer supervises the adolescent under probation. They monitor the youth and assist them by linking them with other services.
Juvenile Office Attorney reviews all child abuse and neglect petitions filed by deputy juvenile officers and discuss referrals to FDTC. The attorney attends all FDTC staffings and hearings and represents the Juvenile Office in the underlying dependency case. For cases involving deferred criminal prosecution, the attorney is the FDTC contact person for the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. In juvenile drug court, the juvenile office attorney files the petition on allegations made through some illegal activity of the adolescent.
Parent Attorney - All parents who have children placed into protective custody are referred to Legal Services or a court-appointed attorney for legal representation, unless they waive the referral or retain private counsel. Parent attorneys represent their clients in both FDTC proceedings and the underlying dependency cases. Parent attorneys should encourage the parent to cooperate in treatment, but support sanctions when warranted and necessary. Parent attorneys are to receive all FDTC progress reports concerning their clients.