Experienced. Knowledgeable. Dedicated. Fair.
In addition to my work presiding over matters in the courtroom, over the last twelve years I participated in the development of court programs and resources to ensure that treatment options are available for individuals. I believe it is my responsibility as a District Court Judge to participate in the conversation with community leaders to address issues we hear in District Court in order to reduce recidivism and provide alternatives to people who are willing to accept treatment.
Mental health and substance abuse issues affect every walk of life. Untreated mental health disorders and addiction affect our community as a whole everyday. The lack of funding for treatment and the desperate need for treatment are ongoing issues that are frequently seen in District Court. Through my experiences and involvement in attempting to resolve these issues, I have displayed a commitment to the people of Buncombe County in addressing the complex issues involved with mental health and substance abuse with a goal towards reducing recidivism and keeping our community safe.
S.O.A.R. COURT (Success Overcoming Addiction Through Recovery) - I had the distinct pleasure of leading a team of individuals in the implementation of Buncombe County’s Family Treatment Court (S.O.A.R. Court). I am very proud of our team’s efforts in developing a court program that addresses the needs of families who deal with substance abuse addiction and recovery. The team and I worked intensely over a period of two years developing Family Treatment Court. Buncombe County’s Family Treatment Court became operational in November 2005. I preside over Family Treatment Court every first and third Wednesday of each month. Treatment Courts across the country have been successful for over twenty years effectively changing the lives of individuals and families dealing with substance abuse and addiction. Family Treatment Courts are unconventional, employing a unique therapeutic method of treating individuals with an addiction. The goals of Family Treatment Courts are to provide safe, nurturing, and permanent homes for children while simultaneously providing parents the necessary support and services to become drug and alcohol abstinent. Family Treatment Courts aid parents in regaining control of their lives and promote long term, stabilized recovery to enhance the possibility of family reunification within mandatory legal timeframes. Buncombe County’s Family Treatment Court has graduated forty-four participants from S.O.A.R. Court and has had eleven drug-free babies born in the program.
JUST PROGRAM (Justice United in Support of Treatment) - I worked with a team of individuals in the development of Buncombe County’s Just Program. The goal of the Just Program is to divert individuals with mental health needs to therapeutic services with the community rather than incarceration. Jail Diversion staff screen detainees to assess their risk and level of motivation to determine appropriateness for program participation. Jail Diversion staff then provide treatment recommendations with community linkage plans and supervision to court personnel.
COMMUNITY – I am also active in our community where I serve on the Board of Directors for the Mountain Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence. I am also a Committee Member on the Asheville Buncombe Drug Commission, and the Justice Advisory Committee. I served as a member on the Asheville Catholic School Board for four years. I formerly worked on the Downtown Social Task Force. The taskforce was organized under the direction of City Council charged with exploring social issues and submitting proposed solutions to the problems associated with homelessness, graffiti, loitering and panhandling for City Council’s consideration. I served as a Board Member on Buncombe County’s Women’s Commission. I was a guest speaker at the 2006 Western North Carolina Leadership Symposium on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. The symposium was designed as an effort to address critical mental health and substance abuse needs in Western North Carolina. The symposium included members of the community working collaboratively to build comprehensive strategies to address mental health and substance abuse reform. I am an active participant with the organization “Room in the Inn” providing lunches to women in crisis. I am an active member and volunteer at the Basilica of St. Lawrence Catholic Church.
MEMBERSHIPS – I am a member of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. I am licensed to practice in New York, Connecticut and The United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.