Drug court planned in Westmoreland County
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.
As many as 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Two Westmoreland men charged with drug possession
- 2 arrested after Jeannette raid turns up heroin, crack, gun
- Inmate charged with smuggling drugs into Westmoreland prison
- PennDOT prefers keeping Yukon, Madison interchanges; project to require at least 3 new bridges
- Directors to view Southmoreland High upgrades
- Greensburg Salem parents plead for restoration of 3 bus routes
- Police: Woman faked Mt. Pleasant robbery
- Contractor on New Stanton I-70 project wants access route
- Ligonier man accused of beating, strangling woman
- Hempfield officials to review site plan for Excela Health Orthoplex
- Student violinist,Valley School of Ligonier reach settlement