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Closing Ceremony Hits High Note


The 17th Annual Drug Court Training Conference came to a close with a stirring ceremony that featured keynote addresses by General (ret). Barry McCaffrey and Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, remarks by Martin Sheen, Harry Lennix, Matthew Perry and Melissa Fitzgerald and an awards ceremony recognizing several heroes of the Drug Court community. The event opened with a rousing rendition of I Believe sung by Marion Swingler of the Washington, DC Drug Court.




Veterans Treatment Courts were front and center during the Closing Ceremony as Nick, a decorated combat Marine, told the story of his struggles after coming home from service in Iraq and his return to honor with the help of the Rochester Veterans Treatment Court. “For me, the battle began when I came home," he said.  "Judge Patricia Marks and the Rochester Veterans Treatment Court team saved my life.” His remarks were followed by General (ret.) Barry McCaffrey, who brought down the house with a passionate call for continued expansion of Veterans Treatment Courts throughout the nation.


Visit Justice For Vets: The National Clearinghouse for Veterans Treatment Courts

NADCP CEO West Huddleston and NADCP's first All Rise Ambassador, Martin Sheen, took the stage to honor Matthew Perry and Harry Lennix with the All Rise Ambassador Award for their advocacy on behalf of Drug Courts. The two stars humbly accepted their awards and promised to continue to serve Drug Courts. "I look forward to being one of your loyal foot soldiers in the future," said Matthew Perry. Upon receiving his award Harry Lennix remarked, "It is an honor to be of service to an idea whose time has come."



Before proceeding to the next award, actress and West Wing alum Melissa Fitzgerald fired up the crowd with a rousing call to action, urging every Drug Court professional and advocate to contact their Members of Congress and tell them Drug Courts are a proven budget solution. "I challenge each and every one of us commit to contacting both of our Senators and our Member of Congress, today, tomorrow, next week and every week that we can until the funding is passed and allocated."

Somerset, Kentucky Drug Court Judge David Tapp was honored for his interview with Congressman Hal Rogers in late 2010, and the NADCP Cultural Proficiency Courage Award was presented to The St. Louis Drug Court and the Leech-Lake Band of the Ojibwe Joint Tribal Court.


The final awards of the ceremony went to the 2011 class of Stanley Goldstein Drug Court Hall of Fame inductees. "Election to the Stanley Goldstein Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by NADCP and the Drug Court field," said West Huddleston. Judge John Girardeau was the first to be honored, recognized for transforming Georgia's criminal justice system through the implementation of Drug Courts. Incoming NADCP Board Chair Judge Robert Rancourt presented the next award to Chief Justice Ray Price, who had just completed his two year term as NADCP Board Chair. "Chief Justice Price has dedicated his career to justice," Judge Rancourt said. "He has taken NADCP to new heights." The final inductee was Earl Hightower, described by West Huddleston as "the most caring individual toward the addict I have ever known." Earl's commitment to addicted people and Drug Courts was described as a "24 hour vocation." "The honor is to be one of you, to be a member of Drug Courts," Earl Hightower said. "Drug Courts work and I am a true believer."



As the ovation died down, a picture of four young musicians was displayed on one of several large screens, immediately eliciting several yelps from the crowd in anticipation of the next speaker. Trey Anastasio, frontman for the legendary band Phish, told of his struggle with addiction prior to a 2006 arrest, a seminal event in his life. "I was pulled over, arrested and charged with seven felonies. I was given a choice: serve out my jail sentence or go to Drug Court," he said. "I chose Drug Court. I am here today to tell you that was the most important decision in my life. My gratitude to Drug Court is inexpressible."



Check out pictures from the Closing Ceremony and click on any picture to access the full albums on our FlickR page.

Closing Ceremony Slideshow