Winter 2020

Judge Ruben Reyes

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the tragic loss of a colleague and friend, Judge Ruben Reyes. He was a champion of specialty courts and his loss will be felt by the entire judiciary.

His obituary can be found here



How We Adapted to the Pandemic: The El Paso DWI/Drug Court's Response to COVID

With the continuous problem regarding COVID-19 and this pandemic crisis, the Court has had to reevaluate its treatment program in order to promote public health and safety. The CDC and our local public health officials have been sharing guidance on how to slow down the rate of infection and we are abiding by that guidance.

We are continuing to adhere to social distancing guidelines to control the spread of this communicable disease between team members, participants and their families. Our law enforcement officers have had minimal contact with our participants. Breath samples are being provided by participants through their own portable or interlock devices. UAs are being conducted by surveillance officers with all the precautionary measures when alcohol or drug use is suspected. Participants are being sent to private labs in order to keep the drug testing consistent and not allow complacency. We temporarily have halted drug testing that could expose staff to respiratory or other bodily fluids contamination and encouraged self-disclosure of substance use during supervision or treatment sessions. We continue to use technology such as alcohol monitoring devices, transdermal patches and hair follicle analysis to detect drug usage. Our community supervision department has utilized alternatives to in-person contact such as phone, email, Skype, Zoom. Our treatment providers also have developed alternatives to in-person contact for individual and group sessions by utilizing contact by phone, email, Skype and Zoom. Further, they have ensured that participants have access to current technology and have internet access. Currently, participants are not being ordered to perform community service hours to avoid risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Most, if not all, participants are employed and for those who are not employed, we have taken into consideration the degree of risk of exposure for those who suffer from any disabilities. We have taken into consideration executive orders requiring nonessential business stoppage. We have not suspended graduation activities. These activities have continued to occur by Zoom, and the positive side of this is that we are able to include families and supportive friends who could not have otherwise attended a participant’s graduation. Our procedures for termination have not changed.

Our court staffing is being conducted via Zoom videoconferencing amongst the team and participants and our experience with Zoom has been positive and the communication has been even better, especially with this population who lose their privilege to drive. Further considerations include:
• The degree of exposure, risk to our staff and participants is minimal.
• Frequency of status hearings has not changed.
• Person placement and ability to social distance in the courtroom is nonexistent, but is done via Zoom.
• Possible exposure to participants while in transit to and from the courthouse, while passing through security, and while on elevators or almost nonexistent, with the exception of those that need to be addressed in person.
• Virtual alternatives have increased since we are conducting everything virtually, i.e., supervision, counseling, life skills, court appearances and peer support groups.
• We are ensuring access for all team members and participants to that technology.
• Sanction, incentive and therapeutic procedures are all virtual, with the exception of those that need to be addressed in person.
• We continue to adhere to the client’s right to be heard and have representation when warranted.
• Our response and confirmation to missed hearings due to illness, quarantine, shelter-in-place or fear are addressed immediately.
• The use of jail for sanctioning including risk of exposure is taken into consideration and there are cases where the participant will need to be sent to the county jail. If jail is used as a sanction, we want to ensure that it is to protect public safety.
• We have included four new programs into our program which provide life skills for family members, one of our past graduates is now a certified peer support coach and certified to provide Moral Reconation Therapy and provides those services to our participants, and we now provide English as a second language classes to Spanish speakers to enhance their language skills. These programs have provided a positive impact to our program.



Mark Your Calendar!

Virtual DWI Court Team Basic Training & Advanced Conference
March 1-5, 2021 
Registration will open in early January. You must have login credentials to access the website and to register. 
To obtain credentials, contact Aaron: registrar@yourhonor.com.
(You will need to retain these credentials in order to access the online conference.)

DWI Summit
June 3, 2021
Nacogdoches

DWI Summit
June 24, 2021
Odessa

Impaired Driving Symposium

August 2-3, 2021
Corpus Christi





Have Gavel, Will Travel (virtually)!

Do the judges in your courthouse or in your area have questions about impaired driving? Are you looking for an opportunity to bring together all the judges in your jurisdiction who handle impaired driving cases from bond to trial to supervision, especially now that you don't see them in the hallways? We know you can set up your own Zoom but let us do it instead! We will handle designing an impaired driving presentation that fits your needs, just give us a time and audience.



Awards and Accomplishments

The McLennan County has been awarded a three-year, $270,264 grant from the federal Office of Justice Programs to enhance the DWI and drug court program and the services it provides. Click here to read more.

Judge Laura Barker, Williamson County Court at Law No. 2, was awarded the Judiciary Service Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. This award recognizes the achievement and outstanding service to stop drunk driving in Travis and Williamson County and is given to a judge who goes above and beyond to support, prevent, and eliminate drunk driving.

 


                           
 
 
  Spotlight on Success Awards 
Call for Nominations
 
 

Do you know of a DWI Court that has been extraordinarily successful in implementing the DWI Court Guiding Principles or would you like to recognize a team member that goes above and beyond the call of duty? Nominate them to be honored at the 2021 DWI Court Team Advanced Conference! (Self-nominations are welcome for the Team award.)

Please email your nominations with a brief explanation to hollyd@yourhonor.com.

Resources

Check out the new National Drug Court Resource Center here

The National Association of Drug Court Professional's Spanish-language translation of the Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards can be found here.

December is Impaired Driving Prevention Month. Click here for the National Center for DWI Courts Impaired Driving Prevention Month kit. 

NADCP's National Drug Court Institute, in partnership with the Center for Strength-Based Strategies, is offering access to "Motivational Interviewing (MI) for Treatment Courts." Click here to learn more. 

Watch it online!

Recordings of the following online courses are available:
Impaired Driving Case Law Update and Back to Basics: Impaired Driving Edition

The DWI Summit topics included sentencing alternatives, occupational licenses and search warrants.


To access the full list of impaired driving conference papers, handouts and PowerPoint presentations simply log-in to your judicial profile on www.yourhonor.com and under the Resources tab choose Publications Library and then DWI as the category.


Contact Us
If you have suggestions for items to be included, or have an accomplishment or award that you would like to share, please contact: 


Judge Laura A. Weiser
Judicial Resource Liaison
lweiser@yourhonor.com    

Holly Doran
TxDOT Program Director
hollyd@yourhonor.com


The DWI Listserv is open to all judges handling DWI cases. If you would like to be added to the Listserv please send an email to hollyd@yourhonor.com. We are continuously adding to the Texas Judges’ DWI Resource Website with news articles and upcoming educational opportunities.  We hope you find the  information in this Newsletter interesting and helpful. Please contact the Traffic Safety Program with any questions or comments.