Chief Justice Declares May Problem-Solving Court Month


In this photo taken from a livestream, State Court Administrator Corey Steel delivers remarks during an event celebrating problem-solving courts at the State Capitol, Thursday, May 6, 2021. (NET via Daily Record)
By 
David Golbitz
The Daily Record

Nebraska Chief Justice Michael G. Heavican signed a proclamation last Thursday declaring the month of May as Problem-Solving Court Month in honor and support of the various problem-solving courts that operate across the state.

“Problem-solving courts reduce recidivism and increase community safety through the kinds of comprehensive and coordinated court response utilizing early assessment in intervention, individualized treatment, intensive community supervision and consistent judicial oversight,” Heavican said.

There’s a total of 32 problem-solving courts in Nebraska with at least one in each of the state’s 12 judicial districts. Around 1,400 people participate in the state’s problem-solving courts each year, Heavican said.

The signing ceremony began with remarks from State Probation Administrator Deb Minardi, who thanked all of the staff of Nebraska’s problem-solving courts for their efforts in making the courts successful.

“I remember years ago when we used to talk about problem-solving courts someday becoming institutionalized as a natural cog within the justice system,” Minardi said. “There is no question that not only have problem-solving courts made their mark over the last 20-plus years, but they are going strong and they are here to stay.”

State Court Administrator Corey Steel congratulated the participants of the state’s problem-solving courts, acknowledging the difficult path laid out before them when they agreed to take part in a problem-solving court.

“This is not easy,” Steel said. “It is not something that they enjoy at the start. This is a life-changing event that they have to put tireless hard work in, and it is humbling to be able to come to the table and say, ‘I have an issue. I have a problem and I need help.’”

Heidi Webb was arrested in 2010 on charges of possession of a controlled substance and she started treatment in January the following year. She graduated after 18 months — the least amount of time that someone can spend in the program.

“I was given this opportunity to do something that I needed to do,” Webb said. “I needed the structure. I needed to have the accountability. I needed to do all of the things that they were teaching me and helping me to achieve. I loved the support that I got from the drug court team and I could really tell that they wanted us to succeed and to do well and if we needed their help they would help us.”

Webb now works as a peer support specialist, helping other drug court participants through the process.

“It’s because of them that we do this work to see that change,” Minardi said “To see them improve, to see them become productive citizens is why we all do this work.”

Also in attendance at the signing ceremony were Nebraska Supreme Court Justices William Cassel, Stephanie Stacy, Jeffrey Funke and Jonathan Papik, and Statewide Problem-Solving Court Director Adam Jorgensen.

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