Rolling Meadows Courthouse will celebrate two drug court and eight mental health court graduates in joint ceremony

Released On 06/13/2022

Eight participants in the Circuit Court of Cook County’s mental health court program and two participants in the drug court program will graduate in a joint ceremony at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse this week, according to Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans. 

Community partners, advocates, and loved ones will gather in person at the courthouse and via Zoom at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, June 14, before the Hon. Jill C. Marisie, Presiding Judge of the Third Municipal District, who oversees mental health court in Rolling Meadows, and the Hon. Joseph M. Cataldo, who presides over the courthouse’s drug court program. These programs are part of the Circuit Court’s “problem-solving courts,” which offer individuals convicted of nonviolent offenses a path toward stability and recovery.

Participating in the program allows individuals to avoid incarceration, live in the community, and receive the treatment they need to recover from a substance use disorder, in the case of drug courts, or get adequate treatment for mental health issues, in the case of mental health court. All participants are required to remain in treatment and work with their team; drug court participants also must undergo regular drug testing.

The ten graduates honored at tomorrow’s ceremony have each successfully completed about 24 months of probation.

The Rolling Meadows drug and mental health courts are 2 of 20 problem-solving courts in the Circuit Court of Cook County, which include 7 drug treatment, 7 mental health and 6 veterans treatment courts, which focus on the unique issues faced by military veterans. These courts combine intensive judicial supervision with rigorously monitored rehabilitation services, strict oversight, accountability, and a team approach to decision-making to help prevent individuals from becoming repeat offenders.

A speaker at Tuesday’s ceremony will be Tina Branch, a past graduate of the Rolling Meadows mental health court program. Branch, who suffered abuse as a child, experienced personal tragedy, and struggled with drug addiction, was caught stealing in a mall. Seven years ago, a Cook County sheriff’s officer told her she would make a good candidate for the problem-solving court program. Branch didn’t think she’d get accepted, because of her past criminal record. She said going through the court changed her life.

Branch said the team helped her learn to have a better perspective, including getting her into therapy. “It’s kind of like preschool and kindergarten. If you’re open to the steps they have set out for you, it’s amazing,” said Branch. She said judges show “empathy,” realizing that “people have issues before they come to the courtroom.”

“There are so many Tinas out there,” said Branch, who said the graduates still have a tough road ahead, but now have tools that will help them. “I kept going forward.” Branch has started her own program to help people struggling with drug and other issues.

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans said he continues to be heartened by the success of the county’s problem-solving courts. “One of our goals is to move people away from criminal activity and allow them to become productive citizens, not just to punish them,” Judge Evans said.

“Recovery is based on respect of self and others and a process of change,” said Judge Marisie. “Problem-solving courts show participants that there's hope and that they have purpose. We provide individualized pathways to recovery, encourage family and community support and motivation through a holistic approach.”

Judge Marisie said that while the courts focus on public safety, they also address trauma, treat substance abuse and other disorders, and try to understand and prevent relapse.

"Problem-solving courts offer an alternative to jail through their therapeutic response to individuals with entrenched needs, such as drug addiction and mental illness, which drive reoffending,” said Kelly Gallivan-Ilarraza, director of the problem-solving courts for the Office of the Chief Judge.

Note: Media representatives who wish to cover this event should note that some individuals do not want to be photographed or filmed, and should inquire with court representatives first about each individual’s willingness to participate.  

Two other major problem-solving court graduations are coming up later in June. The Hon. Judge Lauren Edidin, who oversees the Skokie Courthouse, mental health court will hold a graduation for at least 13 graduates on June 24.

Also, the Hon. William Hooks, who oversees the Veterans Treatment Court at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, will hold a graduation ceremony on June 27.

More details on these graduations will be available at a later time.


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