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Happy Birthday, Drug/DUI Court Friday, January 3, 2020

The state's first adult Drug/ DUI Court will be 20 years old in January - and there's going to be a party! The annual drug court celebration will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 3, at the Burleigh County Courthouse.

Judge Bruce Romanick will be awarded the Drug/ DUI Court's Distinguished Service Award for his 7 years of service as the lead drug court judge. Romanick's work is done in addition to his regular caseload, and he has participated in activities like volunteering at the Santa Run with participants.

The Western Dakota Association of Legal Assistants will receive the Drug Court Partner Award. The group hosts a summer picnic for participants and their families, provides Christmas treats, and provides support during drug court sessions.

Theresa Mehring will receive the Drug Court Advocate Award, for the support she provides to individual participants.

Members of the Bruce M. Van Sickle Inn of Court will host the Drug / DUI Court party. The Inn of Court is a group of lawyers and judges who strive toward excellence and civility in the practice of law.

The Bismarck - Mandan Drug/ DUI Court began operation on January 5, 2001. The Drug / DUI Court has 20 participants at the present time. All the participants are chemically addicted individuals who have pleaded guilty to drug or alcohol offenses. The program was planned and initiated through the leadership of the Department of Corrections.

97 people have successfully completed the program. 182 have been involved in the program - 109 men and 76 women. 55 were sentenced to Drug/ DUI Court as part of a driving under the influence sentence, 116 were sentenced for drug offenses or drug-related offenses.

Participants attend court sessions each week and are involved in intensive treatment and probation programs. They are tested for drug and alcohol use several times each week. They are required to work, attend school or do community service 40 hours each week.

Each participant makes an appearance each time they appear in court and discusses their progress with the judge. Participants move through three phases of the Drug/ DUI Court program and earn incentives as they progress. During the later phases, the number of court appearances and the intensity of supervision decrease. A minimum of a year in the program is required for commencement.

District Judges Bruce Romanick and Gail Hagerty are the Drug/ DUI Court judges. Natasha Nagel is the coordinator and probation officer for the program and Jennifer Goldade coordinates treatment services, which are provided through West Central Human Services.