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Info about the Eighth Judicial District Court.

Category Archives: Drug Court


A baby cries as Judge Carolyn Ellsworth begins the graduation ceremony for the March class of drug court graduates. The judge smiles and tells those gathered, “It’s great to have the babies here. It’s great that they’re here and come into the world drug-free.” After completing an intensive treatment program, the class of 13 drug court participants graduate to a productive new life. “I’m like your mom, only meaner,” jokes Judge Ellsworth, who presides over the drug court program with the mission to get those with substance abuse issues to stop revolving through the justice system.

Specialty courts use a therapeutic approach that targets and treats the root-causes of the addiction that fuels the crimes committed to feed the addiction. Not a graduation goes by that a graduate does say that the program saved their life. They praise the program but they know the road ahead will be filled with challenges. Judge Ellsworth tells her graduates, “I’m going to miss you. I really am.” She encourages them to keep her informed of their progress and asks them stop by. “I wish I could guarantee you that your lives after drug will be perfect after drug court,” said Judge Ellsworth. “But that would be a complete lie; life isn’t like that.” She reminds the grads that they’ve been given the tools to deal with adversity in a productive way. She encouraged them to stay on the path to a fulfilling life.

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Those who are sentenced to drug court are those who have been through a revolving door of drug abuse and resulting criminal activity. Many were formerly successful professionals who made a wrong turn somewhere. That is the case with one of the drug court’s current participants; but, what a difference a specialty court can make. A once very successful businessman who had it all, lost everything to his addiction to methamphetamine. He lost his income, his family, and his freedom. He became a familiar face in the criminal justice system. He was eventually sentenced by a District Court judge to drug court and that’s when things began to change. Enter Judge Carolyn Ellsworth, who presides over the drug court. She holds drug court participants accountable, yet manages to offer encouragement at the same time.

Those who are in the endless cycle of addiction and crime emerge to get on a path to recovery through rigorous treatment. The treatment is administered by the specialty court mental health/social service treatment professionals, and overseen by Judge Ellsworth in coordination with prosecutors, defense attorneys, and Parole and Probation.

In the case of the once prominent businessman, that is just what happened. He began to rebuild his life.  He became drug-free, got a job and worked to stabilize his life. He became involved in a healthy relationship. Then in early June, Judge Ellsworth married him to his new love. She baked one of her very special homemade cakes that she is known to bake for every drug court graduate. Family and friends came to support the man they love; the one they thought they had lost to addiction.

Not every story goes so well; and the new groom faces an ongoing struggle with recovery. But his outlook is bright, and the drug court team is there to help get him across the finish line. The rest is up to him.

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The first of the newly established Jack and Lulu Lehman scholarships has been awarded to help fund the education of an outstanding juvenile drug court graduate. The recipient was recently accepted to the College of Southern Nevada to study psychology. Each year, grants in the amount of $1,500 will be awarded to 10 qualified students who are graduates of the juvenile drug court program. The scholarships are intended to assist applicants with school tuition and educational fees during college, trade and/or vocational school attendance. Students who maintain a 2.5 GPA will have the opportunity to apply for a renewal of their grant each semester/term.

The Lehman Scholarship Fund has been set up by Steve Lehman and Jessica Lehman Hirsch to the honor their father, Judge Jack Lehman, who established the first drug court in Nevada in 1992. Scholarships will be awarded to graduates of the Eighth Judicial District juvenile drug court program who demonstrate an interest in furthering their education as part of their path to a better life in recovery. The Lehman Scholarship Committee members, including Nevada State Senator Michael Roberson, Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager, Jessica Lehman Hirsch, Steve Lehman, and a member of the California Community Foundation, made the award based on the youth’s demonstrated ability to overcome challenges in her life and willingness to obtain an education to enhance her opportunities in the future.

“Judge Jack Lehman was ahead of his time when he established the first adult drug court in Nevada. His legacy of investing in the hope and promise of recovery for people in this community will live on through these scholarships,” said District Court Chief Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez.

For those who would like more information on the Jack and Lulu Lehman Scholarship Fund, visit or contact Marilu Guzman with the California Community Foundation at (213) 452-6260.

“By establishing the first drug court in our state, Judge Jack Lehman took an important step that has turned so many lives around,” said Presiding Family Court Judge Charles Hoskin. “This scholarship, which helps to educate young people who excel in drug court and want to better their lives, is a commendable way to honor the legacy of Judge Lehman.”

Under the direction of Judge William Voy, hearing master Margaret Pickard presides over the juvenile drug court.

“This scholarship offers reinforcement and a hand to the juvenile drug court participants who are getting their lives on the right track,” said Judge Voy. “It provides much needed educational funding, which greatly improves the odds for success for drug court participants.”

Nevada state Senator Michael Roberson and Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager will be joining Jessica Lehman Hirsch, Steve Lehman, and a staff member of the California Community Foundation, as members of the selection committee.

Specialty courts solve issues through a rigorous and coordinated approach between judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, Parole and Probation, law enforcement and mental health/social service/treatment professionals who work together to help participants recover, live crime-free and become productive citizens.


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Going to court can be a scary experience. Today, District Court Family Judge Cynthia Giuliani switched her robe with a fairy godmother suit to finalize adoptions for six families. Many of the children will came in costume to heighten the fun and help make it a day they will always remember.

This is the third year Judge Giuliani suited-up as a fairy godmother for adoptions around Halloween. “Court can be an intimidating experience, especially for children. We do this to make these adoptions fun instead of scary. Everybody can use a fairy godmother in their life to make things extra special,” said Judge Giuliani. “There’s a big need for adoptive families and this is also a fun way to get the word out so more children can get into permanent, stable homes with loving, caring families.” Family court is involved in other special adoption events, including an annual adoption day marathon which is scheduled this year for November 19. For more information about adoption, call the Clark County Department of Family Services at 702-455-7414.

“It’s great to see Family Court judges come up with creative ways raise awareness about the issue of getting children into permanent, stable, loving families,” said Family Division Presiding Judge Charles Hoskin. “There is a great need in Clark County to get good, caring families to step in to care for children in need.”

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Judge Linda Bell told graduates, "you inspire me."

Judge Linda Bell told graduates, “you inspire me.”

Two big screens projecting a mug shot served as the backdrop for 42 Eighth Judicial District specialty court graduates in Las Vegas as they celebrated their drug-free, crime–free life after an intensive treatment program. A packed room filled with friends, family, counselors and even the judges who sentenced the participants, looked on and applauded, as one-by-one the graduates faced friendly heckles on their mug shots, collected their certificates, thanked their judge and counselors and shared their emotional road to recovery. Standing before the audience, a nervous graduate named Armando said he was so excited that he couldn’t sleep the night before. Barbara, who was chosen to speak on behalf of the mental health court graduates, said that the program helped her to overcome a 35-year drug addiction. A DUI graduate named Jason just said that he was happy to have his family back. Many of the graduates brought prepared letters to read, including Marcus who said, “thank you to the program that saved my life.” He read a heart-wrenching letter that recounted his despair during his addiction and ended saying “I hope to make the world a better place.” One 20-year-old said that it was good he caught “it” when he was young because he didn’t think that he would make it to be old. The audience laughed, applauded and echoed the thought.
Judge Linda Marie Bell who presides over the specialty courts commended the graduates and said, “I know how hard you’ve worked and what you put into the program. You inspire me.”

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