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Info about the Eighth Judicial District Court.

Category Archives: Specialty Courts

District Court will celebrate another specialty court graduation just as the program prepares to ramp up with a new infusion of funding. The newly minted specialty court grads will receive certificates and accolades on Friday, Jan. 15 at 2 p.m., in the Regional Justice Center jury services room at 200 Lewis Ave. The graduating class includes 64 participants from veterans court, mental health court, the OPEN program, drug court and felony DUI court; programs that have proven to be a successful way to get people off substance abuse and on track to productive lives.

The Nevada Legislature through the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Nevada Supreme Court has increased and consolidated funding for specialty courts with an additional $3 million for fiscal 2016 statewide. Southern Nevada, which includes limited jurisdiction courts, received $1.8 million of that funding. All courts plan to increase levels of participation in all programs.

The Eighth Judicial District Court will increase specialty drug court participation from 300 to 500. Felony DUI court is expected to increase from 450 to 550 participants. Mental Health Court will go from 100 to 200 participants. Veteran’s court is expected to increase from current levels to 45 participants. The OPEN program will grow to meet the need.

To meet the demands of this growing and challenging caseload, the court will diversify the specialty courts judicial assignments. Effective Feb. 16, Judge Adriana Escobar will continue to preside in courtroom 3F over felony DWI (serious offender program) and veteran’s court and assume Judge Carolyn Ellsworth’s civil calendar. Judge Ellsworth will handle drug court and keep her current criminal calendar in courtroom 16D. Chief Judge David Barker will handle mental health court and OPEN (Courtroom TBD).

“The specialty courts are an effective way to dispense justice and achieve rehabilitation,“ said Chief Judge Barker. “This new funding is much needed and will go further to ensure that those committing crimes and revolving through the justice system as a result of substance abuse, recover and go on to live productive lives.

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Judge Ellsworth will handle drug court and keep her current criminal calendar in courtroom 16D.


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This Friday, specialty court graduates who have evolved over years of intensive treatment and rehabilitation programs will get a fresh start for spring. The 67 grads from the Eighth Judicial District specialty courts will shed their old lives and begin their new lives. They leave behind the revolving door of repeated incarcerations due to substance abuse offenses and crime, to forge a life of responsibility and productivity. On Friday, Apr. 3 at 2 p.m., in the Regional Justice Center jury services room at 200 Lewis Ave., the specialty court grads celebrate their accomplishments. A special certificate will mark the launch of the grads’ new lives, and they will get applause and encouragement from judges, family, friends, counselors and each other for successful completion of years of treatment.

Arrest mug shots will be projected behind the grads to remind them how far they’ve come and to serve as a stark reminder to stay the course. The pomp and circumstance of the graduation marks a big occasion for the families of those who have successfully completed years of treatment in the drug, mental health, DUI, veterans’ and OPEN court. The community reaps benefits from the program in terms of tax dollars saved, social services spared and crime averted.

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“Life with an addicted mother is like looking down a dark tunnel.”

Being the child of an addict is the worst, but watching them grow and recover is the best. I am here to speak today because no parent truly understands what a child goes through. I had to grow up super-fast. You never know what you’re going to get with a parent who is an addict. It’s like walking on eggshells. It’s the worst feeling because it causes families to tear apart and creates so much chaos. Kids don’t know how to deal with it, and many like me keep quiet and just wonder why me? It’s a horrible, empty feeling to see everything crumbling down as a child because there is nothing you can do while your mom or dad is numbing the pain. You just sit there in silence wondering what it is like to have a normal life.

I have a little brother who I’m very attached to. I took on the role of watching him like a lot of other kids do. To this day, he is the reason I never gave up. My mom and I weren’t always close. When my mom started losing everything, I still stuck by her side for many reasons. I have believed and pushed hope one day she’d realize this isn’t what life is about. The constant moving and car rides is unfair to do to any child because it’s your choices not theirs. Looking down a dark tunnel is how to describe it in a way. It’s so hard to have no control over it.

One day, when it all came back around, my dad had taken me from my mom and my life changed in an instant. Although I wasn’t happy with my mom, I still loved her. It is so hard to not love the person who took you into this world. I will never forget the first time I saw her after. I had so many emotions and I was nervous. She was so happy to see me and looked like better in a sort. I was only allowed to see her once a week. No spending the night or any longer than a full day and I will admit at first I was over it. But slowly she gained my trust back and started to bond with me again. Once she got me to see my brother, it was the best. She had started changing because ¬¬she put me before seeing her son. She started proving to me that she was trying to mend the wall I had up. My dad was also very supportive of me and I’m glad he was there as well.

Now, I live with my mom and we’re basically the same person and are very close. I tell her everything, and love to get mani-pedi’s together or go out to eat. She has my trust 100 percent. How? It took a while, but in the end it was worth it. Never give up. There is always light at the end. My mom went from one day a week, to me living with her. After the many hardships and tears, it all worked out. There has to be rainy days to enjoy the good ones. Congrats on graduating Mom; I love you: and congrats to everyone else here today too. Mom, I’m so glad of how close we are, and how we’re the same person.

The young lady who wrote this letter inspired an entire specialty graduating class when she read it at a graduation. She hopes to go on to be a counselor and gave her permission to share it to inspire others.

Specialty courts solve issues through a rigorous and coordinated approach between judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, Parole and Probation, law enforcement and the mental health/social service/treatment professionals. All work together to help participants recover, live crime-free and become productive citizens. The next specialty court graduation is scheduled for April 3 at 2 p.m. in the jury services room at the Regional Justice Center.

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Preventing DUI’s saves lives. That’s why the latest donation of 10 clubs by the Stop DUI program to the District Court Felony DUI Program is so important. Those going through Felony DUI Program treatment are prohibited from driving a vehicle without a breath interlock device. The Clubs are used as part of a strategy to keep them from driving vehicles without the interlock device. Putting a Club on a participant’s vehicle without the interlock device is a way to reduce the potential for a DUI re-offense in the event of a relapse. The Felony DUI Program has 445 participants in various stages of the three to five-year intensive treatment program. A lot of Clubs are needed to secure the vehicles around that many participants.
The Felony DUI Program is one of several District Court specialty court programs that save lives and tax dollars by solving issues through a rigorous and coordinated approach between judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social service and treatment communities. Participants in the Felony DUI Program have a pending Felony DUI charge within a seven- year period and have to meet the diagnostic criterion for a substance use disorder. Judge Linda Marie Bell presides over the adult specialty courts program.
Sandy Heverly, the co-founder and executive director of Stop DUI, describes the organization as: “a Nevada grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to stopping the violent crime of driving under the influence and assisting the victims of this crime.” Visit for more information on the program.
The specialty courts are a great example of how the Eighth Judicial District Court is using alternative, efficient methods to address crime and ensure justice. District Court continuously works to develop innovative ideas, improve efficiencies, address issues and improve access to justice. For more information about the courts, please visit our website at

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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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