TribLIVE

| News

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

Drug court planned in Westmoreland County

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
Chris Feliciani

Daily Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, July 14, 2014, 12:01 a.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.

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 rcholodofsky@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Traffic detour lifted
  2. Jeannette man arrested in city shooting
  3. McKeesport man ordered to trial in New Stanton hotel homicide
  4. Hole in North Huntingdon dance studio believed to be from car crash
  5. $200K grant will go toward demolition at Monsour Medical site
  6. Hempfield joins county land bank
  7. Hempfield library programs at risk as funds dip
  8. Last option for former Jeannette Glass site: Pa. Supreme Court
  9. Police identify Acme man who died after crash
  10. Kecksburg celebrates its UFO history with annual festival
  11. Fairfield Township resident honored by Loyalhanna Watershed Association