MOUNT GILEAD — The Morrow County Court of Common Pleas recently held its Substance Abuse Court’s Winter Graduation, where 10 graduates were honored by Judge Robert C. Hickson, Jr. and Judge Tom C. Elkin.
The ceremonies took place on Friday, Jan. 22 in the Morrow County Courthouse’s South Courtroom. Due to COVID-19, modifications to this graduation had to take place, though the graduates were still able to be recognized for their hard work and achievements, a news release states.
This graduation was broken down in to four mini-ceremonies, in which graduates and their closest family or friends were assigned one of the four ceremony times. Court Administrator Greg Thomas said, “This was our second time holding a graduation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Judge Hickson and Judge Elkin made it clear that they wanted each individual graduate properly honored.”
The Court planned an event that would highlight the graduates and their achievements, while also being in compliance with the guidelines and directives the Court received from the Department of Health and the CDC. Thomas said, “It’s not easy to graduate Drug Court during normal times, so it is especially difficult to graduate during a pandemic. These graduates overcame the additional stressors and obstacles the pandemic created, and therefore they should be exceptionally proud of themselves.”
The Morrow County Substance Abuse Court, or Drug Court, has been in existence since 2000. Currently, the Court has four different dockets: Felony, Treatment-In-Lieu, Family, and Juvenile. All four Specialized Dockets are credentialed and certified through the Supreme Court of Ohio, and all are funded by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Judge Hickson presides over the Treatment-In-Lieu, Family, and Juvenile dockets, while Judge Elkin presides over the Felony docket. Each docket has a “treatment team” that includes a Judge, a Probation Officer, treatment providers, and, for the Family docket, a Children Services Caseworker.
Thomas pointed out, “What often is overlooked is what I like to call the ‘behind the scenes work’: the time, energy, and effort that the treatment team provides in striving to achieve success in Drug Court. For instance, Judge Hickson and Judge Elkin spend countless hours working on their respective Drug Court dockets. They carefully review each participant’s progress, knowing what each individual is doing well in addition to what areas of improvements may exist.”
Thomas said Morrow County is very fortunate to have Drug Courts.
“It is completely up to the Judges if there is a Drug Court, as there is nothing mandating the Court to have specialized dockets. Many Courts throughout the state do not offer specialized dockets. Here in Morrow County, Judge Hickson and Judge Elkin are fully committed to combatting substance abuse and addiction through these specialized dockets,” Thomas said.
For information pertaining to the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas, contact Greg Thomas, Court Administrator at 419-947-4515; ext. 2295.