Municipal Court ‘Recovery Court’ receives state certification

Staff Report

GALLIPOLIS — The Recovery Court Docket of the Gallipolis Municipal Court has earned final certification from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets, allowing the municipal drug court to operate for an additional three years through Dec. 31, 2023.

According to a news release sent on behalf of the court, in order to receive the certification, the local court had to submit an application, undergo a site visit, and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went in to effect in January 2014.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor congratulated the Gallipolis Municipal Court and Judge Eric Mulford for receiving final certification.

“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” O’Connor said. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.”

Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. There are more than 210 specialized dockets in Ohio courts that deal with issues such as:

Drugs and Alcohol;

Mental Health;

Domestic Violence;

Human Trafficking.

The standards provide a minimum level of uniform practices for specialized dockets throughout Ohio, and allow local courts to innovate and tailor to meet their community’s needs and resources.

Mulford credited the late Dennis Johnson, who served as the administrative liaison with TASC of Southeast Ohio prior to his death on Jan. 28, 2021, with encouraging him to keep operating the drug court after he became the municipal court judge.

“Dennis was a fierce advocate for every participant in the program, and he loved seeing someone live up to their potential and change their life,” Mulford said. “His friendship and support meant a lot to me, and he and Shallon Schuldt, our probation officer who is also the director of specialized dockets, are directly responsible for the fact that we still have a successful drug court today.”

The judge added that participants who choose to fully engage in the program not only receive treatment for addiction and develop a relapse prevention plan, but many complete their education, gain employment, learn life skills, and rebuild trust and mend family relationships along the way.

Mulford said that 33 individuals have graduated from the program since March of 2017, and 22 have had no new criminal charges filed against them, equating to a 67% success rate using that metric. “To put this in perspective, several national studies have found the success rate for standard probation falls between 40 – 55%,” Mulford said.

The certification requirements include establishing eligibility requirements, evaluating effectiveness of the specialized docket, and assembling a treatment team for implementing daily operations of the specialized docket. The team can include licensed treatment providers and court personnel and is headed by the specialized docket judge.

The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts; the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts; and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel. The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification.

Information provided by Gallipolis Municipal Court.

Staff Report