WILMINGTON — There were 23 participants at the first 2018 convening of the local drug court.
The very first participant to come to the lectern and interact with the judge was a man who, on Valentine’s Day 2017, overdosed in a car but was found and revived.
Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck started the status hearing by noting there were some new people in the You-Turn Recovery Docket. He said part of the point of the 18-month program is to learn from each other’s mistakes.
When that first participant told his OD story, he looked around the courtroom at the other participants, as they listened and hopefully learned from his experience. Common Pleas Court Intervention Specialist Ken Houghtaling said the participant had put other things ahead of recovery when he relapsed.
Rudduck told one participant he is very concerned about him, adding “you know that, we’ve talked privately.” The judge offered he doesn’t know what’s been going on the past couple months in the man’s life — a time frame when the judge has seen a downward difference in him.
Noting there is a husband and wife couple among the current drug court participants, Rudduck said that living arrangement can work both ways: They can support one another in the recovery journey or they can enable the other to stay drug-dependent.
There were several participants the judge said he wanted to speak with privately afterward in chambers, rather than during the proceedings which are open to the public and where all other participants are present.
One participant was wearing a work uniform for a local restaurant, indicating it was her first day on a new job.
A number of participants reportedly are doing well, including Crystal Hamm, whom the judge promoted to phase 2 in the three-phase program.
Closing remarks were given by Molly Countryman, a probation officer for Clinton County Common Pleas Court. She read a poem, then spoke a little about herself.
All told she has been in probation work for a dozen years, Countryman said. She mentioned probation officers’ fear of receiving a phone call from the coroner, saying there is no identification on a body but the probation officer’s business card was found in the pocket of the deceased.
An effect of the job, she said, is that sometimes probation officers for a split second see the ones they have lost in the faces of the living defendants sitting in front of them.
“That may be sometimes why people are hard on you,” she acknowledged.
A couple of the women participants had dyed their hair with multiple bright colors. Rudduck wondered aloud whether it was “celebratory hair.” At the close of the proceedings, drug court volunteer Terry Urton ended with a light note when he spoke up from the gallery, “Your honor, I wouldn’t be too critical of multi-colored hair.” The judge has two hair colors himself — black and gray.
The public is encouraged to come to sessions of the drug court and be supportive. They start at 1:30 p.m. on the first and third Fridays of every month, and are held on the third floor of the Clinton County Courthouse in the common pleas courtroom.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.