TribLIVE

| News


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Drug court planned in Westmoreland County

Chris Feliciani

Daily Photo Galleries

Westmoreland Photo Galleries

Sunday, July 13, 2014, 10:30 p.m.
 

A reorganization of Westmoreland County's Court of Common Pleas will pave the way for establishment of a drug court.

Court officials announced last week that a specialized program will be established next year to assist defendants who are addicted to drugs and alcohol.

It will be administered by Judge Chris Feliciani. Next month, he will transfer from civil court to criminal court.

“I've always felt we had a need for it,” Feliciani said. “There is a very high percentage of people moving through the system with drug and alcohol addictions.”

His shift to criminal court is part of an overall reorganization of the bench because of the appointments of Harry Smail and David Regoli. Both will be sworn into office on July 21.

How the drug court will function has yet to be determined.

Up to eight court employees will undergo three days of training this summer from the National Drug Court Institute, based in Alexandria, Va. Grant money will pay for the training.

Meanwhile, the county will seek grants to pay for implementation of the drug court.

Dirk Matson, the county's human services director and co-chairman of the Westmoreland County Drug Overdose Task Force, said funding options are being explored.

“It's just one more piece in helping us deal with a very complicated problem,” Matson said.

He said a recent study of 100 overdoses in the county revealed that 65 percent involved people who were involved in the criminal justice system.

Court Administrator Paul Kuntz said officials anticipate as many as 40 defendants could be enrolled in drug court.

For the last several years, Feliciani has overseen a drug court for parents involved in family court custody cases. There are three parents enrolled in that program.

Feliciani has worked in the civil court division for the last six months. He had served 10 years as a family court judge.

Regoli will be assigned to civil court, and Smail will work in the family court division.

Judge Megan Bilik-DeFazio, who took office in January, will transfer from family court to criminal court. Kuntz said Bilik-DeFazio will continue to oversee some child custody cases as well.

President Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr., who in January shifted from civil to criminal court, will return to his previous assignment in August.

Judge Al Bell, who has worked in criminal court, will retire on July 18.

Senior Judge John Driscoll will continue to carry a full case load in family court.

With the new appointments and Driscoll's continued work, the county bench will have all of its 11 courtrooms in use.

“Now that we are at full complement, our expectations are that we will be able to keep pace with the caseload,” Kuntz said.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Charges advance for men accused in police scuffle at Fort Ligonier Days
  2. Hempfield man receives long-overdue Bronze Star for World War II service
  3. Longtime Greensburg District Judge Albert will seek fifth term
  4. Arnold man’s molestation conviction upheld
  5. 3 injured in 2-vehicle accident on Arona Road in Hempfield
  6. Former Steelers LB Haggans to do time in Westmoreland jail
  7. Endowment of $3.49B makes University of Pittsburgh 25th richest in U.S.
  8. Suspect in West Newton burglary sought; alleged accomplice arrested
  9. Rostraver Democrat aims for 1 of 3 open spots on Westmoreland County bench
  10. Braddock man held for trial in Jeannette assault, robbery
  11. Krieger to seek Westmoreland County Common Pleas judgeship