Login | February 21, 2019

Two muni court programs receive certification

Published: February 14, 2018

AKRON––Mental Health Court and Family Intervention Court, two specialized dockets of the Akron Municipal Court, recently earned a renewed certification from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets. Both are now certified through Dec. 31, 2020.

Judge Annalisa S. Williams presides over Mental Health Court and Administrative Judge Kathryn Michael presides over Family Intervention Court. In order to receive each certification, the Akron Municipal Court submitted an application, participated in a site visit and provided specific program materials in response to certification standards that became effective in January 2014.

“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” said Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.”  

Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. 

The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts; the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts; and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel. The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification. 

About Mental Health Court
The Akron Mental Health Court is a collaboration between the Akron Municipal Court, Community Support Services, The Summit County ADM Board and its umbrella agencies. The Mental Health Court is dedicated to diverting persons with mental illness from the local jail and the criminal justice system. The Mental Health Court stresses a therapeutically jurisprudent approach of supporting a psychiatrically stable and crime-free lifestyle for mental health consumers within the Akron Municipal Court jurisdiction. 

It was established in 2001 as the first Mental Health Court in the state of Ohio and fifth in the United States. Judge Williams began presiding over the specialized docket in 2005.

To be eligible for the program, one must have a severe and persistent mental illness, be charged with M3 or higher, acknowledge a willingness to take medication, have the ability to understand consequences and comply with program requirements. If the crime was a crime of violence, victim consent is required. 

Although Judge Williams leads the endeavor, an advisory board also serves a key role in achieving success. Members of the advisory board include Ron Rett, Paula Burris, Terri Shavers, Gert Wilms, Lori Florin, Ed Gilbert, Michael Yohe, Patti Schacter, Emily Smith, Michele Franklin and Tony Ingram. 

Mental Health Court meets most Tuesdays at 1 p.m. in Judge Williams’ courtroom. 

About Family Intervention Court
Judge Kathryn Michael not only serves as administrative/presiding judge for the Akron Municipal Court, but for its Family Intervention Court as well. In 2009, she became the presiding judge of the Family Intervention Court Program and its predecessor, the Family Violence Court. 

The Akron Municipal Court’s Family Intervention Court Program is an integrative, therapeutic alternative to traditional court practices which fosters partnerships with local community based agencies. 

These partnerships are reflected in the make-up of the Family Intervention Court program team members, who are: Judge Michael, Program Manager/Probation Officer Matt Esterle, Program Manager/Probation Officer Chris Quinlan, case managers from Oriana House, Inc., a victim's advocate from The Battered Women's Shelter, a representative from Summit Psychological Associates, Inc., domestic violence investigators, Marcus Miller and Sharon Price, from the Akron Prosecutor's Office and Joseph Kodish from the Summit County Public Defender's Office. 

Its mission is to provide effective supervision and comprehensive treatment services to those offenders who enter a plea of guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. An intensive intervention strategy is used which includes completion of a twenty-six week batterer's intervention program, random or daily drug and/or alcohol testing, regularly scheduled case management sessions, at least one year of probation and other treatment tailored to the offender, as determined by the Family Intervention Court Program team. 

Family Intervention Court meets most Wednesdays at 1 p.m. in Judge Michael’s courtroom. 

About the Judges and the Akron Municipal Court
Judge Williams was first elected to the bench in 2003 and Judge Michael was first elected to the bench in 2005. 

In 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court appointed Judge Williams as a member of the Mental Health Court Commission on Specialized Dockets. 

The Akron Municipal Court has a total of five specialized dockets: Mental Health Court led by Judge Annalisa S. Williams, Family Intervention Court led by Judge Kathryn Michael, OVI Court led by both Judge Williams and Judge Michael, Valor Court led by Judge Jerry Larson and Recovery Court led by Judge Jon Oldham.