Judge Head staying on bench for Drug Court

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Head may preside over Drug Court for 6 months

Former Associate Circuit Judge Victor Head retired in December, but wanting to continue his involvement in Barry County Drug Court will keep Head on the batch a little longer.

With former Barry County Prosecutor Johnnie Cox taking Head's associate judgeship, Head said he will continue to preside over Drug Court as a senior judge for the time being.

"We are in a transition period and I'm not sure how long, maybe six months," Head said. "The idea is, the way a participant enters Drug Court is through the prosecutor. He is the gatekeeper, so Johnnie would screen the applicants and see if it was appropriate for them to go to Drug Court. The applicants would then go see Nancy Foulke, probation officer, and Earl Best, Drug Court counselor."

Head said Cox sent many of the current Drug Court participants to the program as prosecutor, which is part of the reason he will stay on the bench.

"The fact is that Johnnie was the prosecutor when a lot of these people came to drug court, and then he became the judge," Head said."I think it would have been fine, but since I am doing a senior judgeship anyway, it seemed logical [for me to continue presiding over Drug Court]."

Cox said there is no definite timeline for him to take over the program, and Head staying on the bench is a good thing for everyone involved.

"We felt like it would be a good thing for Judge Head to stay on for Drug Court because he's already familiar with the cases," Cox said.

Senior judges are approved for 60-day periods at a time, and Head said he's happy to still be able to serve.

"I absolutely want to stay on no matter what, and I'm glad to do it," he said. "I've invested a lot of time and effort in Drug Court, and I hope to continue with it for however long is appropriate."

Cox said the Drug Court program is set up for participants to be enrolled for at least 18 months, and many are in the program for longer. Cox said he, Head and other judges in the circuit are planning for the program's future.

"We will come up with a plan for any issues that arise [when I assume Drug Court duties]," Cox said. "We are fortunate to haver Judge Head and his willingness to assist us in this transition."

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