Kudos to the Committee To Retain The Sitting Judges and our poll volunteers. I wish to especially acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of Bill Davis, Chair, David Merkin, Treasurer, Jeremy Rachlin, Tracy Phillips and Caitlin Grant, Volunteer Coordinators, as well as Mimi Magyar, Bruce Marcus, Sydney Patterson, and a host of others. The committee, with the support of over 350 volunteers, many of whom are BAMC members, manned the polls at the primary, early voting and the critical day of the general election. Your commitment to the election preserved the important process of maintaining the integrity of the process of selecting judges. The extensive and time consuming service of the committee and our volunteers is greatly appreciated and positively reflects on our efforts as an Association to best serve the residents of Montgomery County.
(Great Privilege Creates Great Responsibility)
We are all greatly privileged to be members of the Maryland Bar and acknowledge our responsibility to improve the administration of justice for all. Although we receive many membership benefits, this is not the only reason to be a BAMC member or sponsor. Did you ever wonder how the revenues from fundraising projects support and serve the community? In addition to numerous charitable organizations, including but not limited to, the Maryland Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, Shepherd’s Table and Family Justice Center, these funds support the development of important new programs such as the Drug Court.
Approximately 12 years ago, the Honorable Nelson Rupp along with Pam Harris, our Court Administrator at the time, attended a series of conferences with the Department of Justice in an attempt to establish a Montgomery County Drug Court program. They coordinated efforts with John McCarthy and Dan Barnett, of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, Paul DeWolfe and Mary Siegfried, of the Public Defender’s Office, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Parole and Probation. The Montgomery County Police, Bruce Sherman and Darren Popkin, of the Sheriff’s Department and Art Wallenstein and Stefan LoBoglio, of the Prerelease Center all played an active role in implementing this program. As you can imagine coordinating these agencies was no small task!
Ten years ago, the first Drug Court participant was admitted (sentenced) to the program. The requirements of this program are strict. Each participant must, on a weekly basis, receive 2-3 treatment/therapy sessions, maintain regular contact with their case worker, attend 3-4 AA/NA meetings, submit to 2-3 random urinalysis, live in approved sober housing, remain gainfully employed and attend weekly Drug Court hearings at night. Montgomery County is one of the few jurisdictions that holds night court. Judges Rupp and Quirk preside over the weekly night sessions in addition to their regular assignments. These sessions are held with the participation of the State's Attorney, Public Defender, Sheriff and Court Administration.
Drug Court participants include those who have suffered from the most severe of addictions with a 100% recidivist rate and have often described themselves as a "Hot Mess". Their lives have spiraled out of control with little hope of regaining their sobriety let alone keeping a job or envisioning any meaningful future. Realizing that we cannot simply build more prisons, this program attempts to remedy the source of the problem i.e., the loss of control and self respect. The reality of drug/alcohol treatment and rehabilitation is that no one succeeds until they accept full responsibility for their own sobriety.
The original and still current Drug Court Case Manager Bunny Boswell has been key to the program's success, along with other Drug Court Case Managers. Ms. Bunny, as she is affectionately known, is part Marine Corp Drill Sergeant and part Mother Superior. She speaks with many of the participants daily and quickly disposes of any excuses or rationalizations that could interfere with full compliance.
If you have never attended a Drug Court graduation, it can best be described as an uplifting revival meeting where the most supportive and vocal attendees are the past graduates. At a recent graduation, the speaker was a young man who Judge Rupp had incarcerated four times when he failed to fully comply with his weekly requirements. As part of his emotional speech, he hugged and publicly thanked both Judge Rupp and co-chair Judge Quirk for saving his life. What was truly extraordinary was that, after obtaining his sobriety thru the program, this young man had on two separate occasions come to the rescue and saved the lives of helpless people. He realized that by saving himself he was able to be there to save others. There can be no doubt that this program works and actually has the ability to changes lives for the better. Of those who have completed Drug Court, 20% reoffend as compared to the 100% recidivist rate preprogram.
BAMC members Glen Cooper and Bob Maclay helped set up the Drug Court 501(c) 3 program to help fund the GED program run by Drug Court and provide other assistance. The Bar Foundation provides funding to support the Drug Court program.
Judge William Simmons now has his own version of the program in the District Court and is experiencing similar success.
We all owe a great deal to our members who recognized the need and have tirelessly given their time and support to others. We should be proud that through these and a myriad of other programs the members of our bar association continue to fulfill our responsibilities to the citizens of Montgomery County.
Happy Holidays to you all and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!
Please be sure to review and use the updated list of discounts listed in the Membership Vendor Discounts section of the BAMC website (under the Membership Services link, located under the Member’s Center tab).