In 1998, Cleveland Municipal Court accepted a federal grant to establish the Greater Cleveland Drug Court. This specialized docket was presided over by the Honorable Larry A. Jones until his election to the Eighth District Court of Appeals in November 2008. The Honorable Anita Laster Mays assumed the position of drug court judge in January 2009.
Drug court may be offered to a felony offender charged with a fourth- or fifth-degree-level possession of a controlled substance, who has only one non-violent felony conviction and is chemically-dependent. Defendants are required to enter a plea of “guilty” to a first-degree misdemeanor. The sentence is held in abeyance pending successful completion of the program. Upon successful completion of drug court and payment of a supervision fee, a participant’s guilty plea is vacated, the charge(s) dismissed and the case sealed or expunged.
More than 1,100 people have successfully completed the Greater Cleveland Drug Court Program, which benefits not just the individuals involved, but also the community in which they live and all taxpayers. Average treatment typically costs approximately $3,000, while the cost of six months of incarceration averages $14,000.
Because of the success with Drug Court, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court has formally adopted the program, which is currently under the direction of the Honorable David T. Matia.