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First Annual Justice Services Conference – CALL FOR PROPOSALS

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Indiana Office of Court Services on 10/24/2017

The Indiana Office of Court Services has announced the First Annual Justice Services Conference to be held on May 9th – 11th, 2018 at the Indiana Convention Center.  The conference will include all staff from Probation, Court Alcohol and Drug Programs and Problem-Solving Courts.  With the increased number of sessions being offered, they have opened a “Call for Proposals” for those interested in presenting a workshop at the conference.  They are looking to fill plenary as well as breakout sessions with sessions lasting 1.25 hours. The proposals will be reviewed and selections made by the Indiana Office of Court Services.

The link below will allow interested presenters to submit their proposal along with session descriptions and other applicable information.  Feel free to share the link to anyone in outside agencies who would be a great addition to the session lineup.

https://ijc.wufoo.com/forms/z1ahjbi70j5wx6a/

 

Webb: Here are the overdose stats for 2017. They’re bad.

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Evansville Courier and Press on 12/06/2017 by Jon Webb

Steve Lockyear didn’t see this coming.

Before this year, 2016 marked the busiest year the Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office had ever seen. Drug overdoses spiked as heroin, fentanyl and scores of other opiates ripped through the community.

So everyone stepped up. The coroner’s office, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke’s administration, local law enforcement, hospitals and community groups launched widespread efforts to educate the public on the danger of opioids.

But so far, those efforts have failed to make a difference. Instead, things have gotten much worse.

Last year, the coroner’s office worked 50 fatal drug overdoses. This year?

“We’re way up,” Lockyear said. “We were past the 50th at the beginning of November.”

As of Tuesday, the coroner’s office had worked 65 confirmed fatal drug overdoses; 24 came from heroin or fentanyl. The majority of the others were opiate-based as well, but they also covered everything from cocaine to K2 to helium.

A lot of victims, he said, had multiple drugs in their system. And there are still several pending cases.

“I would say that we’ll hit, at least, 70 this year,” he said. “At the rate it’s going, I’d be naïve to think we won’t.

“That’s about one every five days. … It doesn’t take very long for you to find somebody that has, or knows somebody that has, a family member that’s overdosed or died.”

Those kinds of numbers would be depressing in any year. But they’re especially so now because this was the year everything was supposed to turn around.

State legislators jammed a parade of opiate bills through the General Assembly in 2017. State Sen. Jim Merritt – who says he aims to end the epidemic within five years – introduced 19 on his own.

In an interview with the Courier & Press in September, he offered some blunt honesty that turned out to be prophetic.

“Frankly, we’re losing the battle right now,” he said. “You don’t hear that very often, but we are.”

Merritt still believes Indiana can stop heroin’s trample within half-a-decade. But there are several reasons not to share in that optimism.

1. We’re not providing any extra money to fight the problem in 2018

A lot of different groups take cash to combat drug addiction in some way, but we only sit aside $5 million a year for the state drug czar. And according to several legislators, including Gov. Eric Holcomb, that number won’t increase in 2018.

The reason? It’s a non-budget year, and our lawmakers are terrified of those. But it’s a stupid excuse, because they break their own rule all the time. In 2012, another non-budget year, they approved $100 million to fund all-day kindergarten.

That was a good reason to bend tradition. And, considering the numbers, the opioid scourge is, too.

2. County records are incomplete

That’s not the case in Vanderburgh. Lockyear keeps meticulous track of overdose deaths.

But it’s a problem elsewhere, especially in poor, rural areas. Merritt complained about that in September. He said Indiana is a top-5 state when it comes to the opioid problem, but we were only able to secure middle-of-the-road money from the feds because of shoddy data across counties.

“I think overall we couldn’t prove we have the problem that we actually have,” he said.

3. The federal government

Last week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Kellyanne Conway, a person with no medical background, will be in charge of curbing overdoses.

All this leaves aside the uncertainty around healthcare – especially Medicaid – as well as the state’s unwillingness to experiment with alternate pain treatments, such as CBD oil, which Attorney General Curtis Hill ridiculously declared illegal last month.

And it paints the possibility of a bleak future for the Tri-State: a place already grappling with poverty and high suicide rates.

Lockyear estimated that about 500 area people have died of drug overdoses in the last 12-14 years. And if we don’t find a way to get a handle on opioids, the number is just going to climb.

“I thought we’d curb it this year. I was just totally shocked,” he said. “One of the biggest public (problems) we had is people just didn’t understand heroin and the danger of the opiates. And now that we’ve (educated them) and people are still dying, I just don’t know what to do.”

“The sad thing about my job is, it’s over when we get there. We’ve failed.”

Contact Jon Webb at jon.webb@courierpress.com

Jeff Miller: Here’s why I’m staying on the Indianapolis council

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The Indianapolis Star on 12/5/17 by James Briggs and Ryan Martin

Jeff Miller is keeping his City-County Council seat while fighting child molestation charges for the same reasons he first ran for the council in 2011, he told constituents Tuesday.

Miller, a second-term Republican, wrote in an email that his motivation for serving on the council has always been “to give a voice to those who felt they didn’t have a voice.”

“I love fighting for the issues that impact you, whether big or small,” Miller wrote in an email to residents of his Downtown Indianapolis district. “Some view the council as a way to gain power, such as being on certain committees or holding certain titles. No, the council is not about having power, but about having a voice and to use that voice to speak for those we represent.”

More: Jeff Miller goes from court to council, greeted with handshakes, hug — and a reduced role

More: Indy Councilman Jeff Miller asks court to return his son to his custody

More: For Republicans, Jeff Miller makes unwelcome return to Indianapolis council business

Miller’s email offers the first explanation for why he has remained on the council since Nov. 17 when he was charged with three level 4 felony counts of child molestation alleging that he fondled two 10-year-old girls at his Fletcher Place home. Marion County Republicans expected Miller to resign in the wake of the charges, but in recent days have searched for ways to adapt to his decision to stay.

Miller’s email to constituents came on the same day his beleaguered fellow Republicans signaled that they will seek to topple Miller in the next Republican primary — in 2019. All 10 of Miller’s council Republican colleagues have called for him to resign.

The City-County Council cannot expel Miller unless he were to be convicted of a felony. Council leadership on Monday used the last tool available to limit his role when a three-member panel stripped him of his committee assignments. Now, Republicans are looking ahead to the next council election.

“The Marion County Republican Party will continue to look for a quality candidate to replace Jeff Miller, whether that be through a caucus or in the 2019 election,” Marion County GOP Chairman Jim Merritt said in a statement Tuesday.

Miller on Monday attended his first council meeting since charges were filed. He was greeted cordially, even as his party tried to figure out how to respond to his presence.

Michael McQuillen, the Republican minority leader on the council, said Monday that the GOP caucus might consider expelling Miller. But Republicans did not take that step during a private Monday night caucus meeting, McQuillen said.

In his Tuesday email, Miller also talked about his son.

“The only thing I love more than giving you a voice is being the father of my wonderful son,” Miller said. “And so I look forward to continuing to pursue both of these passions to the best of my ability.”

What To Make Of A Head-To-Head Test Of Addiction Treatments

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NPR on 11/16/2017 by Jake Harper

Addiction specialists caution against reading too much into a new study released this week that compares two popular medications for opioid addiction. This much-anticipated research is the largest study so far to directly compare the widely used treatment Suboxone with relative newcomer Vivitrol.

Researchers who compared the two drugs found them equally effective once treatment started. But there are fundamental differences in the way treatment begins, which makes these findings difficult to interpret.

Vivitrol, an injection of naltrexone that lasts 28 days, has gained a foothold among treatment providers, especially those working with the criminal justice system.

Until recently, no major study had compared it to Suboxone, a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone that is taken by mouth daily.

 

Now researchers have found the two medications to be equally effective at preventing relapse once patients start treatment, according to a study published Tuesday in The Lancet. A smaller, shorter study out of Norway that was published in October came to a similar conclusion.

Addicts turning to anti-diarrhea medication to get high

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CBS News on 5/6/2016

Some opioid addicts are turning to an over-the-counter alternative to get high — and it’s probably not one you’d expect.

A growing number are taking dangerous doses of Imodium A-D, a widely available gastrointestinal medication, CBS New York reports.

According to a report published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the anti-diarrhea medication has growing appeal with substance abusers because it’s cheap and readily available.

Loperamide, the main ingredient in Imodium A-D, causes intestinal slow-down, which helps stop diarrhea. But in very high doses, it can have other effects — as well as some serious risks.

“It’s an opioid agent and it helps to bind receptors in the brain and cause a similar euphoria or high,” said Dr. Scott Krakower, a physician who specializes in addiction disorders at Northwell Health.

Krakower said a person would have to take an enormous dose of anti-diarrhea medication to get high. Addicts are found to be popping anywhere from 50 to 300 pills per day.

According to the study, Imodium A-D, in large doses, works in the body the same way as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. However, Imodium A-D is a cheaper alternative, as big box stores sell 400 tablets for less than $10.

“Folks that are desperately addicted, folks that are looking to stave off withdrawal symptoms will do whatever it takes sometimes, really extreme things,” Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds, of the Family and Children’s Association, said. “So in the scheme of things, taking 300 pills is not unheard of.”

Excessive doses of Imodium A-D can lead to heart problems, kidney and liver failure, and even death.

 

Related:

American Addiction Centers Extreme Dangers of Using High-Dose Imodium for Opiate Withdrawal

 

Webinar: Addiction Recovery Services and the implications on the Purposeful Incarceration Initiative

The Indiana Department of Correction will be presenting a brief webinar and Q&A to provide those providing community supervision with vital information regarding changes in IDOC Addiction Recovery Services and the implications on the Purposeful Incarceration Initiative for recommendation, sentencing, and modification.

To register for the IDOC Purposeful Incarceration – Update for Community Supervision

 

OPTION 1: Live Webinar on Dec 13, 2017 1:00 PM EST:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/2828551224081435650

OPTION 2:  Recording available after Dec 14, 2017 EST:  http://www.in.gov/idoc/2799.htm under the “Addiction Recovery Services” Section.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. A few tips… (1) After registering please check you spam folder, as sometimes the webinar’s emails end up there, and (2) It is recommended that you utilize the “add to calendar” feature that is provided via the web link as this will then put all of the call-in/log-in information into your calendar.

 

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Stephanie Spoolstra (sspoolstra1@idoc.in.gov) or David Reid (jreid1@idoc.in.gov).

Commitment to Data Sharing

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Indiana Court Times on 10/11/2017

Two key initiatives undertaken by Trial Court Technology (TCT) are in the spotlight for playing important roles in the sharing of court data with key stakeholders and the public. Data from the Abstract of Judgment application and the Odyssey court case management system is enhancing the amount and quality of data TCT is now able to share with all three branches of government and the public.

Abstract of Judgment data

Abstract of Judgment data from INcite is improving public safety efforts by feeding statewide felony data to three distinct systems: National Precursor Law Exchange (NPLEx), Indiana’s Criminal History Record Information System (CHRIS), and the new Child Abuse Registry.

Blocking drug purchases at the pharmacy

On July 1, 2016, at the request of the Indiana General Assembly, TCT began sending methamphetamine convictions to NPLEx in an effort to stop sales of certain regulated cold and allergy medications to individuals convicted of methamphetamine related crimes.

In the following eleven months, of the 6,259 records sent to NPLEx, 182 individuals were blocked from purchasing 263 boxes of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine products. On July 1, 2017, changes to this law went into effect that required TCT to send all felony drug-related convictions to NPLEx from the Abstract application. As a result of these legislative changes, 41,557 additional records were sent to NPLEx. Going forward, any new Abstract for a drug related felony conviction will be sent to NPLEx nightly.

Improving Criminal History Repository

TCT has worked with judges, clerks, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC), and the Indiana State Police for years to improve the reporting of criminal conviction information to the Indiana State Police’s CHRIS repository. It is important that courts and clerks send conviction information to ISP because the CHRIS repository is the official source of an individual’s criminal history – or lack thereof.

The process of matching an arrest record with a corresponding conviction is complicated. Although courts, clerks, and prosecutors have been sending conviction information to CHRIS, it has been a manual process for the most part. And ISP states that only 40% of all arrests are matched with a conviction.

In the last couple of years, TCT started to implement the Odyssey/CHRIS interface following the deployment of the Odyssey case management system to a county.

This interface automatically sends the conviction information to CHRIS upon entry of the conviction. TCT began sending Abstract data electronically to CHRIS for those counties that are not using Odyssey

Although judges have been creating an Abstract of Judgment for every felony conviction since July 2012, courts had not been requested to include the arrest number or transaction control number (TCN), a data point required by CHRIS. Beginning July 1, 2017, courts were encouraged to input the arrest number or TCN when completing an Abstract.

The system provides an ‘error report’ for staff to resolve cases that did not successfully transmit to CHRIS. Since July, TCT has transmitted more than 2,300 convictions to CHRIS, convictions that might have been transmitted by the prosecutor, through the mail, or maybe not at all.

Child Abuse Registry introduced

“Kirk’s Law” was enacted by Public Law 52-2016 authorizing the creation of the Child Abuse Registry. Pulling data from the Abstract of Judgment database, this registry includes information on persons convicted of crimes of neglect of a dependent, child selling, battery against a child, and all sex offenses against a child. Throughout June 2017, the Child Abuse Registry became available to the public and can be accessed, along with numerous other services provided by the Indiana Supreme Court, at public.courts.in.gov.

Teacher licensing

During its 2017 Session, the Indiana Legislature passed a new law requiring TCT to begin sharing felony Abstract conviction data with the Department of Education (DOE). DOE will take the Abstract data and review it to determine if any licensed teacher has a felony conviction that may prohibit them from holding a valid teaching license. TCT and DOE have already started to work on this initiative, even though the effective date for this legislation is July 1, 2018.

Odyssey/mycase

The implementation of the Odyssey case management system to more courts continues to expand the number of case records that are available to the public at mycase.in.gov.

Over 20 million records from more than 275 courts are now available. Odyssey handles in excess of 71% of the state’s caseload. Dearborn, Lawrence, and Ohio counties are the most recent to adopt Odyssey. Howard, Lake, Miami, Montgomery, Ripley, and Wayne counties are in the pipeline.

During 2016, TCT released a new application for the public to search these records. In 2017, following the recommendations made by the Task Force on Remote Access to and Privacy of Electronic Court Records, TCT has made additional information available on mycase.in.gov.

Financial information for each court case is now displayed on the chronological case summary. Court orders are available on specific civil case types such as small claims and civil torts.

Pleadings and orders in expungement cases are available. On June 3, attorneys were provided access to view non-confidential documents on public cases by using their credentials from their Court’s Portal account to register on mycase.

An attorney from Vincennes offered this feedback:

“We were recently informed that attorneys now have access to online public documents to mycase.in.gov. I’m not sure who made this decision but I must say that person (or people) should receive a blue ribbon!

It makes this so much easier for the law offices and I am sure it will make things much easier on the Clerk’s office from having to pull files on occasion to get copies of documents.

From my perspective, this is perhaps the greatest advancement in the Indiana Courts from a filing/paperwork perspective in years.”

Joseph Reed, Reed Law Office, Vincennes

Later this fall, attorneys will be able to access confidential case information if they are the attorney of record on that case. Since attorney access was made available, more than 3,400 attorneys have registered.

For additional information on Odyssey, please contact Mary DePrez at 317-234-2604 or mary.deprez@courts.in.gov.

Device stems opioid withdrawal pain

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The Herald Bulletin on 11/16/17 by Scott L. Miley

FDA OKs appliance that’s made in Indiana

GREENWOOD — Since February, Greenwood City Court Judge Lewis Gregory has offered plan through the local probation department in which opiate addicts can choose to wear a NSS-2 Bridge, a hearing aid-sized device that helps fight the pain of withdrawal.

The other option is often jail.

“The attraction of the Bridge is that people can go through detox without confinement either in a jail or a treatment bed,” Gregory said. “With the number of folks we have in Indiana with an opioid problem, we really need that option.”

This week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Indiana-produced Bridge as the first non-narcotic electronic device to help reduce withdrawal symptoms.

On Thursday, state Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, called it “the future of recovery.”

As a leader in presenting legislation to fight the opioid crisis, Merritt has touted the device’s promising aspects for months.

“This is something that’s going to be an incredible device and something I think will revolutionize the country in the way of addiction and the epidemic in our world,” Merritt said.

“People will detox, they will withdraw from drugs if there is a simpler process, and this is it.”

The NSS-2 Bridge was developed by Innovative Health Solutions, based in Versailles. It is manufactured by Key Electronics in Jeffersonville, where developers are hoping to produce 40,000 devices a year.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement: “While we continue to pursue better medicines for the treatment of opioid use disorder, we also need to look to devices that can assist in this therapy.”

The NSS-2 Bridge is a small electrical nerve stimulator placed behind a patient’s ear. It contains a battery-powered chip that emits electrical pulses to stimulate branches of certain cranial nerves. It has been used in acupuncture and other pain relieving procedures.

But researchers found that the stimulations can offer relief from opioid withdrawal symptoms. Patients use the device for up to five days during the acute physical withdrawal phase, which often includes sweating, nervousness, insomnia and joint pain.

The device was tested on 73 patients, the FDA said. All had a reduction in symptoms within 30 minutes of using it. Overall, 64 of the patients moved to medication therapy after five days.

Similar results are true in the 13 cases it has been used in Gregory’s court. Of those, 10 people transitioned to Vivitrol, which blocks opioid receptors in the brain. People in three other cases did not transition but it was not due to the device, Gregory said.

Addicts going through the Greenwood court are encouraged to admit their problem to their probation officer, who then arranges for use of the Bridge. Gregory had hoped for two or three participants a week but because it is a voluntary program, it has worked out to two a month.

The device costs $499 and with installation runs about $1,000, Merritt said. Developers are hoping that the costs will eventually be covered by health insurance plans.

The Growing Toll of The Opioid Epidemic

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Inside Indiana Business on November 7, 2017 by Tim Cook and Katie Culp, CEO, President, KSM Location Advisors

Last week’s (i) on Economic Development put the spotlight on Indiana’s opioid epidemic and its impact on the economy. What could two people involved in site selection and economic development possibly have to say about this crisis? As it turns out, a lot. Opioid and other drug abuse has a significant impact on Indiana’s workforce and, therefore, our economic success.

To be clear, nothing compares with the personal toll of this crisis. The daily loss of human life and its impact on families, schools, communities, and our culture cannot be overstated, and it’s certainly not overshadowed by the economic impact of it. But that economic impact is real, and it’s not just about the resource strains it puts on local hospitals, emergency responders, and healthcare costs. Some estimates put the annual price tag of this problem at $1 billion in Indiana alone.

As site selectors, we work with all types of industries throughout the country as they make decisions on where to locate or grow their businesses. The number one driver in site selection, regardless of industry, is workforce. Finding the quantity and quality of prospective job candidates to fill the positions needed is critical, whether it be life science, tech, manufacturing, or warehouse and distribution.

Richard Grundy III and 25 others charged federal drug-trafficking case

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Indy Star on November 20, 2017 by Ryan Martin and Tim Evans

Richard Grundy III, who eluded several local drug and murder charges over the last two years in Marion County, is now facing new drug charges — this time from the federal government.

On Monday, indictments unsealed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana detailed new allegations against Grundy and 25 others during the months preceding and following Grundy’s sentencing in September for dealing marijuana.

From about June to November, the indictments say, 28-year-old Grundy led a gang that bought methamphetamine from Phoenix, stored it in stash houses in Indianapolis and distributed it throughout the area. The group also dealt heroin and marijuana, according to the indictments.

“Drug dealing fuels violence and the addiction epidemic our community faces each and every day,” U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said in a statement. “Violent criminals who conduct criminal activity in and around Indianapolis will feel the full force of federal law enforcement.”

“Today’s announcement sends a clear message that law enforcement, and our community, will not waiver on efforts to identify and hold accountable those believed to be responsible for committing violent acts,” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Bryan Roach said in a statement.

So many bodies: Indiana coroners trying to keep up with opioid epidemic

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WTHR on November 16, 2017 by Bob Segall

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – Alfie Ballew has worked at the Marion County Coroner’s office for more than two decades. She sees death every day, but even she is stunned by what’s going on right now.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said the chief deputy coroner. “This is a disease that is actually causing people to die at a rate that I have never seen in my 20 years of conducting death investigations.”

She’s talking about a nationwide opioid epidemic that has hit Indiana hard – killing more than 4,000 Hoosiers in the past decade. Last year, at least 277 people died from opioid overdose in Marion County alone.

“I don’t see that the numbers are decreasing at all. They’re continuously going up,” Ballew said, shaking her head. “It is scary.”

Across Indiana, other county coroners tell 13 Investigates they are seeing the same thing. The opioid epidemic is placing a strain on local resources – and on the investigators – as the overdoses and the death toll continue to rise.

Courtroom 107

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Indiana Court Times on 10/11/2017

It is a challenge faced by courts throughout Indiana: matching the modern day needs of the courts with the limitations of historic courthouses. But in Allen County, an abundance of will and ingenuity found a way to tackle the problem.

After struggling for years with limited space and aging technology, Allen Superior Court Judges embarked on a project with the County Commissioners and others that resulted in a cutting-edge courtroom experience for judges, staff, litigants and jurors.

Courtroom 107, located on the first floor of the Allen County Courthouse, had not been renovated or expanded since the early 1990s. Opportunities to expand the courtroom were limited. It was wedged in between a law library and offices of the Courthouse Preservation Trust, the historic preservation arm that oversees upkeep of the courthouse.

“When our courthouse opened in 1902, no one thought of the needs the judiciary would face in the 21st Century,” said Superior Court Judge Stanley Levine. “This courthouse is a tribute to art, architecture, and grandeur and a treasure in our community. But those attributes do not always provide the tools we need in today’s world.”

In 2014, a committee of Judges including Stanley Levine, Nancy Eshcoff Boyer, and Frances Gull, set out to tackle a problem that was daunting in every way.

Between Allen Circuit and Superior Courts, 23 judicial officers juggle 14 courtrooms. Thirteen of those spaces are either land-locked or grand, ornate courtrooms that cannot be expanded or altered in significant ways. The Allen County Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places and has also been designated a National Historic Landmark.

Only Courtroom 107 offered any hope of expansion.

Courtroom 107 is used mainly by Civil Division Judges, whose complex calendar of cases need modern audio/video presentation and recording systems, ample jury and spectator spaces, and access for the disabled.

As it existed, Courtroom 107 was cramped, with limited seating and space for, at most, six jurors. Its presentation technology was outdated and jurors had to head elsewhere in the courthouse for breaks and deliberations. Even the judge’s bench was positioned at an angle that made it hard to conduct business.

The Judges had a vision for the courtroom, and sought the advice of Fort Wayne architect Ed Welling of Grinsfelder Associates Architects, to help design what Allen County’s Buildings and Grounds Department would eventually build.

“Allen County’s building department does incredible work,” said Judge Boyer. “But we wanted to make sure this project would meet the Court’s needs now and for many years to come. So we invested additional resources in the help of an architect who could optimize the space and design it around the flow of the courtroom process.”

The project would need more than great ideas and a modern design to work. It needed the support of the County Commissioners and of the entities that sat on either side of the courtroom. The judges partnered with Commissioner Linda Bloom, who for many years has been the commissioners’ point person on courthouse operations, to negotiate the reallocation of precious courthouse space.

“While Allen County has grown by leaps and bounds, its Courthouse hasn’t grown an inch in 115 years,” said Judge Gull. “In order for our courtroom to grow, someone else had to give up space. The generosity that greeted us really showed what can happen when we work together to implement significant priorities of our courts.”

The Allen County Law Library gave up much of its square footage, a change made possible by the prioritization of its law book collection and the online availability of information. Even the Courthouse Preservation Trust relocated as part of the project.

Allen County Buildings and Grounds builders, electricians, and carpenters worked three shifts a day to complete the project, which lasted from October 2016 until February 2017. Vance Hernandez, Director of Buildings and Grounds, worked in tandem with the Judges and Commissioners to make sure the project went to plan.

When the dust settled, the project resulted in a facility that is already attracting visitors from around the state interested in seeing the latest in cutting-edge courtroom technology and design.

According to Welling, the courtroom more than doubled in size, to 1,945 square feet. A newly built jury room is accessible directly from the courtroom, without having to pass through public spaces. The jury room also doubles as conference space for the judges. The larger courtroom also allowed for expansion of space for plaintiff and defendant attorney tables.

Other improvements:

  • Growing the jury box from 6 to 12 seats. The additional juror space made the courtroom more flexible for use by criminal division courts as well as the civil courts.
  • Doubling the amount of spectator seating, where potential jurors wait to be selected.
  • Making the courtroom, including the judge’s bench, fully ADA compatible.

In addition, the vendor that provided the old courtroom’s digital presentation and recording system invested significant time, energy, and enthusiasm to update the system and create a showcase of how technology can make the courtroom experience more effective.

“This project is a step forward for our courts that will make an enormous difference for litigants, staff, and judges,” Judge Gull added. “It seemed like something that might just be impossible. I guess it never hurts to ask.”

Prosecutors Support Governor’s Proposals to Attack the Drug Epidemic

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Noblesville Patch on November 8, 2017

Prosecutors Support Governor’s Proposals to Attack the Drug Epidemic

(INDIANAPOLIS – November 8, 2017) Indiana prosecutors expressed support today for Governor Eric Holcomb’s 2018 NextLevel agenda as he outlined proposals to attack the drug epidemic.

The governor’s criminal code proposals include:

  • Establishment of felony charges for drug-induced homicide and for those who illicitly manufacture drugs that result in drug-induced death.
  • Requiring physicians to check the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, INSPECT, before issuing first prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines.
  • Improve reporting of drug overdose deaths.
  • Increase the number of FSSA-approved opioid treatment locations.
  • Initiating a state referral process that links patients directly to available inpatient and residential treatment.

“Prosecutors welcome these proposals,” said Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys, Inc. President Patricia Baldwin, Hendricks County prosecutor. “The opioid crisis needs this type of multi-faceted approach that includes gives crime-fighting tools to prosecutors and law enforcement, monitors drug use and provides treatment. Working together is the only way to effectively fight against this societal menace.”

Medical Marijuana isn’t Medicine and it’s “wrong for Indiana,” County Prosecutors Say

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Indy Star on 11/07/2017 by Dwight Adams

A county prosecutor’s group is strongly opposing efforts to allow medical marijuana, saying it’s “wrong for Indiana” and could worsen the state’s drug abuse crisis.

The Association of Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys also debunked cannabis’ medicinal properties. It said the Institute of Medicine concluded this year that there was “insufficient evidence” to use it to treat glaucoma, epilepsy, dementia and a host of other ailments.

The group wrote a letter to the state’s drug czar last week, asking him to “formally oppose the legalization of marijuana in any form, for any purpose.”

“We strongly believe both medicinal and recreational marijuana legalization are wrong for Indiana,” said the Nov. 3 letter to the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse, chaired by drug czar Jim McClelland. “We urge you to take a stand against these policies that would cause further harm to communities already
suffering from the devastating effects of drug abuse.”

The prosecutors group makes three main points in its plea: It said marijuana use increases the risk of the abuse of opioids and other controlled substances, it claimed that marijuana is not a medicine and it argued that the legalization of marijuana has had “devastating effects” in other states.

‘Coming Out of a Cloud’ After Drug Abuse and Mental Illness

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The New York Times on 10/25/2017 by Emily Palmer

Wanda Ramirez in her Brooklyn apartment.

Wanda Ramirez likes to draw faces with hairstyles, no bodies attached. She calls it doodling. Her recovery specialist calls it art.

“She’s an artist,” the specialist, Laura Gwinnell, said with a nod.

Ms. Ramirez, 51, was uncomfortable with the compliment. She laughed shyly and rolled her eyes. She draws, she said, “when I’m at my wit’s end.”

Ms. Ramirez said in a recent interview that she found it difficult to talk about her struggles, fearing judgment. “It’s not been an easy road,” she said.

When she was 26, she learned she had schizophrenia. At the time, she did not even know what the word meant. During her episodes, Ms. Ramirez said, she would hear confusing voices and a constant bell-like clinking. She was hospitalized so frequently that sometimes just a week separated the stints, she said.

“I was crying a lot, and I didn’t know why,” Ms. Ramirez said, adding that she also experienced depression and insomnia. “And then the doctors told me I was immensely ill.”

She had been living in her own apartment in Queens, but after the diagnosis she moved back into her childhood home in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, sharing the space with her mother and other relatives.

Feeling anxious, Ms. Ramirez started smoking up to two packs a day. “I used to wake up smoking cigarettes,” she recalled. “Smoking made me calm.”

Ms. Ramirez had also experienced a long bout of grief. In one year, she had buried several close relatives who had contracted HIV from infected needles. “There were so many funerals,” she said. She lost five of her siblings in the space of a few years.

Ms. Ramirez was also a marijuana smoker, but she began increasingly using the drug by herself, multiple times a day. “I used to have to do it just to move around, cook, clean, to do whatever it was I wanted to do,” she said. Continue reading →