Northern Michigan court to participate in national drug / alcohol effort

A northern Michigan court is one of six to be chosen to participate in a national initiative.

The National Council of Juvenile and Family Courts is working to develop practices for the treatment of alcohol and drug-related issues in juveniles.

Michigan’s 7th Probate Court, serving Emmet and Charlevoix Counties, is home to two separate “court schools.”

Judge Fred Mulhauser said his court may have been chosen because of its unique programs, including the use of their “in-court schools.”

“The court schools allow us to provide an on-task learning environment, so they actually make progress,” said Mulhauser. “Many of them recover or make up credits while in the court school. It allows us to monitor and control their peer environment, and it allows us to conduct other programming, in addition to their academics.”

The “court schools” include classes, recovery programs and other activities.

Mulhauser said the court has an extraordinarily low recidivism rate for juveniles who go through their sobriety court programs.

“Between today and reaching the goal, there’s going to be experimentation, some trial and error and learning from each other,” Mulhauser said. “Several years from now, if another rural county similar to Charlevoix and Emmet wanted to start a sobriety court, they would be able to access best practices that come out of this effort.”

Mulhauser said the recovery program’s success comes from its non-traditional approach to recovery, addressing all aspects of the minor’s life to encourage behavior change.

Over the next several years, the national center will be studying the programs selected, share with the participating courts and develop best practices.

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