circuit-wide position for a Forensic Child Custody Evaluator. The position is funded by a grant from the Administrative Office of the Courts Juvenile and Family Services division. The evaluator will conduct all court ordered forensic child custody evaluations in the First Judicial Circuit and travel to each of the four jurisdictions as necessary. This position, to be staffed by a licensed social worker or psychologist, will provide expert analysis in a standardized format to support the decisions of family judges and magistrates in contested child custody cases. • In spring 2021, the Circuit Court for Worcester County Drug Treatment Court (DTC) team worked with the local health department and offered onsite vaccines at the courthouse for any DTC participant or their family. DTC case management operations also went virtual in April 2020, but with the opening of the local health department for in-person behavioral health treatment, they resumed face-to-face case management services as of August 2021. Case management services are now offered in a hybrid format as well to meet the needs of clients who have conflicting work schedules or some other commitment that would make in-person services difficult. Since the inception of virtual hearings, the DTC team is now able to allow its participants to attend long-term treatment programs, and remain active with monthly virtual appearances in court. The drug court team was also able to resume random urinalysis collection in July 2021.
pro se petitioners are seeking guardianship of a disabled adult or child, and need legal assistance and advice regarding their petitions for guardianship. The clinic currently operates four hours per month and is being held remotely due to the COVID public health emergency.
Circuit Court for Worcester County
• In an effort to reduce the backlog of criminal cases resulting from the reduced operations of courts due to COVID-19, the Circuit Court for Worcester County created a process that allows a senior judge to hold settlement conferences with the prosecution and defense counsel in criminal matters close to settlement or trial. If a plea offer made after the review of cases was accepted, the case was immediately moved into a courtroom for a plea hearing and resolution. The court sought innovative ways to reduce backlogs of criminal cases related to COVID-19 to meet the goal of achieving time standards in each case despite restrictions imposed by the pandemic. The court resolved nearly 75% of the cases affected by the closure, including several dozen cases approaching the statutory deadline.
• The Circuit Court for Worcester County Guardianship Clinic continues to support the operations of the trust clerk when
SOMERSET COUNTY ADULT RECOVERY COURT HOLDS THIRD GRADUATION On May 28, 2021, the Somerset County Adult Recovery Court held its third graduation for three adult participants. Presiding over the event was Administrative Judge Daniel W. Powell, Circuit Court for Somerset County . Family members were able to watch the graduation remotely. “The Somerset Adult Recovery Court program is an adult drug court that helps individuals to focus on their recovery, supported by the life skills necessary to lift them from a person who committed a crime to a sober, employed, active parent and citizen,” said Judge Powell. On September 30, the Somerset County Adult Recovery Court recognized the accomplishments of its fourth class of Adult Recovery Court graduates during an in-person ceremony. Administrative Judge Powell presided. Friends and family were able to watch remotely as the two graduates, a married couple, were introduced by their treatment providers and expressed their heartfelt gratitude for the support and guidance provided. Both graduates were awarded certificates of completion
and recognized for their dedication to recovery. There are now 10 successful graduates of the Somerset County Adult Recovery Court program, which began in 2019. “It is a privilege to preside over the Somerset County Adult Recovery Court,” said Judge Daniel W. Powell. “Our participants would not have the opportunity to accomplish what they have without the support of so many. Thank you to the friends and family who have joined us today, the recovery court team, and the dedication
Administrative Judge Daniel W. Powell, Circuit Court for Somerset County, issued certificates to both the Somerset County Adult Recovery Court graduates on September 30, 2021.
and commitment of the participants.” The program held its first docket in January 2019 and has served over 30 participants since inception with a total of 10 graduates.
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