Team Member Roles
A Healing to Wellness Court is a circular system with each component of the system linked to, dependent upon and responsible to the others. A Wellness Court can include representatives from some or all of the following components, as well as from others. The National Association of Drug Court Professionals recommends the following roles as a minimum, proven to positively affect participant outcomes. Drug Court Best Practice Standards, Volumes I and II (National Association of Drug Court Professionals, 2013-2014).
Drug Court – A court program managed by a multidisciplinary team that responds to the offenses and treatment needs of participants who have a substance use disorder.
Steering Committee - All drug court partners should be part of a system-wide steering committee. The drug court steering committee is responsible for providing policy direction, the acquisition and distribution of resources (often through a nonprofit structure) and receiving input from the public, while providing support to the drug court system.
Judge - Typically a trial court judge leads the Drug Court team; however, in some jurisdictions a nonjudicial officer such as a magistrate or commissioner may preside over the Drug Court. Nonjudicial officers usually report directly to a judge and require judicial authorization for actions that affect participants’ liberty interests such as jail sanctions or discharge from the program. No study has compared outcomes between judges and nonjudicial officers.
Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: The Judicial Bench Book (2016)
The role of the Healing to Wellness Court differs dramatically from the adversarial trial court judge, both in mechanics and in philosophy. In Wellness Court, the judge serves as the captain or the coach of the team, focused on healing and collaboration. This publication orients and serves the Wellness Court judge while on the bench. The first section provides examples of key component performance in relation to component principles. The second section overviews key Wellness Court processes and procedures. Both sections include Bench Cards intended to serve as tools that package relevant information in an abbreviated format.
The (State) Drug Court Judicial Benchbook, Douglas B. Marlowe, J.D., Ph.D. and Judge William G. Meyer, NDCI (2011).
The Drug Court Judicial Benchbook brings evidence-based practices and best practices to the state adult Drug Court field like never before. The Drug Court Judicial Benchbook provides key guidelines that will help judges improve client outcomes and increase cost savings. The Drug Court Judicial Benchbook provides a planning guide for new courts and includes chapters on important topics such as substance abuse treatment, community supervision, drug testing, judicial ethics and constitutional law.
A Technical Assistance Guide for Drug Court Judges on Drug Court Treatment Services, Jeffrey n. Kushner, Roger H. Peters, and Caroline S. Cooper, BJA Drug Court Technical Assistance Project, School of Public Affairs, Justice Programs Office, American University (2014).
This guide has been prepared for judges newly assigned to preside over a drug court program to serve as a quick primer to assist them in (a) becoming familiar with the key elements and evidence-based practices that should be reflected in the treatment services provided to drug court participants, and (b) working with local treatment provider(s) to ensure that these services are provided.
Tribal Probation: An Overview for Tribal Court Judges, Kimberly Cobb and Tracy G. Mullins, American Probation and Parole Association and Bureau of Justice Assistance (May 2010).
Tribal court judges have the capacity to initiate and develop a successful community supervision/probation program. To do so, however, tribal court judges must have a clear understanding of what community supervision and what probation officers are charged with doing so they can take full advantage of the vast amount of information and services probation officers can offer. This article is designed to provide tribal court judges with a general understanding of community supervision and how it can benefit tribal justice systems, as well as provide some insight into the role of community supervision officers.
Court Coordinator – Typically a court administrator or clerk serves as the coordinator for the Drug Court program; however, some Drug Courts may employ a senior probation officer, case manager, or clinician as the coordinator. Among many other duties, the coordinator is responsible for maintaining accurate and timely records and documentation for the program, overseeing fiscal and contractual obligations, facilitating communication between team members and partner agencies, ensuring policies and procedures are followed, overseeing collection of performance and outcome data, scheduling court sessions and staff meetings, and orienting new hires.
Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: Case Management (2018), provides Wellness Courts and their staff a guide to effective case management and the case manager role. This resource discusses the drug court case management standards, the functions of case management within a Wellness Court, the models and ethics of case management, data and evaluation, and the role of case management can be functionally and ethically shared by other members of the Wellness Court team. This appendix of this publication includes models of case management, vicarious trauma, sample job descriptions, sample participant progress reports, and sample Wellness Court data values.
Drug Court Case Management: Role, Function, and Utility, Randy Monchick, Ph.D., J.D.,Anna Scheyett M.S., M.Phil., M.S.W., L.C.S.W., C.A.S.W.C.M.,Jane Pfeifer, M.P.A., NDCI Monograph Series 7 (2006).
This monograph presents a general overview of the role, key functions, principles, knowledge, and skill set required for effective case management in the drug court setting. It also elucidates the kinds of issues that a drug court administrator and supervisor needs to consider when determining how to best structure the drug court's case management foundation. Every member of a drug court's "core" team should read this document because each plays a vital role in the performance of one or more of the case management functions.
Prosecutor – Typically an assistant district attorney serves on the team. Among other duties, the prosecutor advocates on behalf of public safety, victim interests, and holding participants accountable for meeting their obligations in the program. The prosecutor may also help to resolve other pending legal cases that impact participants’ legal status or eligibility for Drug Court.
Defense Counselor – Typically an assistant public defender or private defense attorney specializing in Drug Court cases serves on the team. Among other duties, the defense attorney ensures participants’ constitutional rights are protected and advocates for participants’ stated legal interests. Defendants are usually represented by a public defender or private defense attorney in proceedings leading up to their entry into Drug Court. After entry, participants may retain their previous defense counsel, provide informed consent to be represented by a defense representative serving on the Drug Court team, or consent to be represented jointly by private defense counsel and the defense representative. In cases of joint representation, the defense representative typically handles most day-to-day issues relating to Drug Court participation, but private counsel may step in if the participant faces a potential jail sanction or discharge from the program. In post conviction Drug Courts, participation in the program is a condition of probation or part of a criminal sentence. Ordinarily, participants are not entitled to defense representation at the post conviction stage unless they face a potential jail sanction or revocation of probation. Nevertheless, post conviction Drug Courts should include a defense representative on their team because studies indicate defense involvement improves outcomes significantly. Evidence suggests participants may be more likely to perceive Drug Court procedures as fair when a dedicated defense attorney represents their interests in team meetings and status hearings, and greater perceptions of fairness are consistently associated with better outcomes in Drug Courts and other problem-solving courts.
Critical Issues for Defense Attorneys in (State) Drug Court, Judge Karen Freeman-Wilson, Ronald Sullivan, and Susan P. Weinstein, NDCI Monograph Series 4 (2003).
This monograph can be used as a reference tool for defense counsel. It examines the tensions between partisan advocacy and therapeutic justice. Topics include the role of a defense attorney on the drug court team, ethical considerations, cultural competence, treatment issues, legal issues, and policy considerations. Finally, the appendices include the NADCP's resolution regarding indigent defense in drug courts and the Missouri Defense Attorney's guidelines for drug court representation.
Ethical Considerations for Judges and Attorneys in Drug Court, Judge Karen Freeman-Wilson, Prof. Robert Tuttle, and Susan P. Weinstein, NDCI (2001).
Drug courts require dramatic changes to the roles typically played by judges and attorneys. This publication details issues particular to drug courts through commentary of selected provisions of the ABA Model Code of Judicial Conduct, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, and the Standards for Criminal Justice.
Community Supervision – (E.g., probation and parole) Typically a probation officer or pretrial services officer serves on the team; however, some Drug Courts may rely on law enforcement or specially trained case managers or social service professionals to provide community supervision. Duties of the community supervision officer may include performing drug and alcohol testing, conducting home or employment visits, enforcing curfews and travel restrictions, and delivering cognitive-behavioral interventions designed to improve participants’ problem-solving skills and alter dysfunctional criminal-thinking patterns.
A Desktop Guide for Tribal Probation Personnel: The Screening and Assessment Process, Kimberly Cobb, American Probation and Parole Association and Bureau of Justice Assistance (May 2011).
This guide is intended to provide tribal probation personnel with information on how the screening and assessment process can facilitate and promote offender accountability and long-term behavior change.
Treatment Representative – Typically an addiction counselor, social worker, psychologist, or clinical case manager serves on the team. In many Drug Courts, participants can be referred to multiple treatment agencies or providers for substance abuse treatment and other complementary services such as mental health counseling or vocational rehabilitation. Because it is unwieldy to have multiple providers attend pre-court staff meetings and status hearings, many Drug Courts will designate one or two treatment professionals to serve as treatment representatives on the Drug Court team. The treatment representatives receive clinical information from programs treating Drug Court participants, report that information to the Drug Court team, and contribute clinical knowledge and expertise during team deliberations.
Law Enforcement – Typically a police officer, deputy sheriff, highway patrol officer, or jail official serves on the team. Law enforcement is often the eyes and ears of Drug Court on the street, observing participant behavior and interacting with participants in the community. Law enforcement may also assist with home and employment visits, and serves as a liaison between the Drug Court and the police department, sheriff’s office, jail, and correctional system.
Power-Point: Importance of Law Enforcement to the Law Enforcement Team – Lawrence Lujan, presented at the 2012 Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Enhancement Training, Palm Springs, CA (Dec., 2012).
This Power Point details the necessity for law enforcement on a drug court team, and the particular role that law enforcement should take on the team. This can be an effective tool for new law enforcement team members, as well as community presentations to communicate the importance for law enforcement to be an active member.
Other Team Members Worth Considering:
Social Service Agencies – Provides health, housing, vocational and other services to offenders in order to stabilize them in the community.
Educational Institutions – Provides educational services to participants, both in and out of custody, through junior colleges, public schools and GED programs.
Tribal Elders/Community Organizations – (E.g., the local bar association, the chamber of commerce, religious and fraternal entities and citizen anti-drug coalitions) Provides educational services to participants, both in and out of custody, through junior college, public schools and GED programs.
Tribal Council – Provides oversight and support for the system.
Community Members/Peer Recovery Support – Provide information through outreach strategies that include public forums, information fairs and the media. Participate through comments, recommendations and suggestions to the steering committee.
NDCI Core Competencies Guide
Details the core competencies for each of the primary team members of a drug court team.
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