Broward County Judges Commence Misdemeanor Drug Court
September 2005


    A first of its kind in Florida, and worldwide, the Misdemeanor Drug Court Program (MDCP) commenced in Hollywood South Satellite Courthouse, Broward County, Florida, on September 9, 2005. The MDCP adheres to the traditional ten (10) key components. Eligible offenses include possession of cannabis, and /or possession of drug paraphernalia, misdemeanor crimes subject to the criminal jurisdiction of the county court. Other misdemeanor crimes can be referred to the MDCP by agreement of the State Attorney and the Defendant.

    People may participate in pre-trial diversion under section 948.16 of the Florida Statutes and have their charges dismissed upon successful completion. If not qualified for pre-trial diversion, they may participate in MDCP as a special condition of probation, receiving a withhold of adjudication. Participants must complete a minimum of six (6) months of treatment, not to exceed twelve (12) months. The MDCP combines the established drug court model of therapeutic jurisprudence and criminal justice system supervision services with community-based education, substance abuse evaluation and treatment services.

    As of December 2005, a little over one hundred (100) participants have entered MDCP. We look forward to celebrating the success of our first graduates within the year. Having listened to felony drug court graduates remark that they often started down the road of addiction with marijuana and alcohol abuse, it made sense to try and address the problem earlier. The phenomenal success of drug courts in reducing recidivism and restoring lives strengthens our hope that a misdemeanor drug court will add to this success by intervening before a felony drug arrest occurs.

    Just like the team that makes a drug court successful, thanks are owed to the team of people who made this program possible. Many thanks to Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Dale Ross, Trial Court Administrator Carol Lee Ortman, Florida Office of Drug Control Director James R. McDonough, Fourth District Court of Appeal Judge Melanie G. May, Broward County Court Judges of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit including Administrative County Court Judge Jay S. Spechler, County Judges Gary Cowart and Kathleen Ireland, Broward Circuit Court Felony Drug Court Judge Marcia Beach, Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne, Director of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Department of Community Control, Kristina M. Gulick, Manager Pearlie Meisel of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Day Reporting and Reentry Division, Broward County State Attorney Michael Satz, Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, Broward County Criminal Defense Attorneys Association President Jason Kreiss, Broward County Clerk of Court Howard C. Forman, United Way Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse, Executive Director J.David Choate, Broward-Dade Safety Council Executive Director Douglas Hughes, Addictions Professionals Paul Pellinger and Guy Wheeler, Court Options Director of Program Development George Romagosa, and Director James N. Hall of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Substance Abuse at Nova Southeastern University, without whose help and support, this program would not have been possible.

For further information contact the MDCP Judge Gisele Pollack at (954) 831-0456.


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Updated 06/09/2006