Watch Opening Ceremony Highlights


NADCP CEO West Huddleston kicked off NADCP’s historic 20th Annual Conference and Drug Court 25th Anniversary celebration by welcoming attendees and eloquently capturing the magnitude of the moment. “Each year you give 142,000 drug addicted individuals a real shot at recovery and a life they could never imagine,” he said. “You are a beacon of light in my book! After 25 years of transforming lives, reducing crime, reuniting families and saving tax-dollars, Drug Courts are now at the very foundation of criminal justice reform sweeping this nation.”

NADCP CEO West Huddleston

After NADCP attendees enjoyed an extraordinary documentary on the first Drug Court in Miami Dade County and its influence on so many of Drug Court’s early pioneers, Huddleston returned to the stage to honor Nick Gillie, the film’s director, with the NADCP Media Award. But before doing so, he welcomed Board Chair Judge Keith Starrett and surprise guest, actor Joaquin Phoenix.

Actor Joaquin Phoenix and NADCP Board Chair Judge Keith Starrett


Mr. Gillie has been the visionary behind NADCP’s powerful All Rise campaign and dozens of Public Service Announcements that have reached millions.

Nick Gillie accepts the 2014 NADCP Media Award

As the documentary so wondrously depicted, the Miami-Dade Drug Court gave rise to the greatest justice innovation of our time. Therefore, the next award was presented to one of its architects, Tim Murray. “Judge Herbert Klein and Tim Murray led a small group of fellow rebels who refused to accept a broken system hell-bent on punishing away addiction,” said Huddleston. “Tim, this Founders Award is giving to you on behalf of all the humanity the Miami Drug Court and the thousands of Drug Courts it helped spawn have touched over the past quarter century. Thank you for giving so many the miracle of Drug Court.”

Tim Murray accepts the 2014 NADCP Founders Award

Following the acceptance of the Founders Award, was a conference favorite, the 2014 Parade of Transformation. There is no better example of the impact Drug Courts have had over the past 25 years than hearing from the individuals and families whose lives they have forever transformed. Drug Court graduates representing the first Drug Court, DWI Court, Family Drug Court and Juvenile Drug Court brought the audience to tears with stories of healing and transformation.

With tears still flowing from the Parade of Transformation, West Huddleston took the stage to introduce members of the rock supergroup the American Vinyl All Star Band, who were on hand to play a special Justice For Vets benefit concert later that evening. Skunk Baxter (Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers), Barry Goudreau (Formerly of Boston), Danny Beissell (Fosterchild), Robert Thompson (James Brown) were joined on stage by special guest Charlie Colin (Train) to honor Drug Court professionals with the playing of the smash hit Calling All Angels.


‘I won't give up if you don't give up’

Former White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director and Chair of the NADCP Board Veterans Treatment Court Committee General (ret) Barry McCaffrey saluted Drug Court Professionals for 25 years of service. General McCaffrey was instrumental in helping to grow Drug Courts nationwide during his tenure at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. “Let me add my thanks for the absolute magic of all of you in this room. God bless your work,” he said.


General (ret) Barry McCaffrey

The Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Dr. Westley Clark, took the stage to thank all Drug Court professionals for their work, and Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice, Denise O’Donnell, shared words of inspiration. 

 Dr. Westley Clark                                  Denise O'Donnell

Attendees were then treated to rousing remarks from an old friend of Drug Court. All Rise Ambassador Martin Sheen was on hand to lend his thanks to all who have helped bring about this incredible milestone. Sheen thanked Drug Court professionals for their tireless efforts. “Drug Court teaches all participants that the only things we can every truly possess are those things which we cherish and give away with love, including our precious time and talent,” he said. “In the end we are made worthy of the long promised blessing reserved for those who do justice and show mercy.”

All Rise Ambassador Martin Sheen

“In this 25th year of Drug Courts, it has never been more important to recognize the state leaders who have been critical in their growth and success,” said NADCP Board Chair Judge Keith Starrett as he took the stage with former NADCP Board Member Judge Kent Lawrence to present the NADCP Governor of the Year Award to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Governor Deal’s last two budgets contained $11 million to achieve his goal of having a Drug Court, DWI Court, Mental Health Court and Veterans Treatment Court in every judicial district of Georgia.

Governor Nathan Deal accepts the 2014 NADCP Governor of the Year Award from CEO West Huddleston, Board Chair Judge Keith Starrett and former Board Member Judge Kent Lawrence


In accepting the award Governor Deal spoke about the incredible success Georgia has had in expanding treatment courts throughout the state. He lauded “the stories of redemption of family reunification, of reclaiming lives, of giving hope where there was no hope” found in Drug Court, and said he was accepting the award on behalf of all those who Drug Court has saved. He then spoke to the professionals in the room, saying “keep saving the lives of those who are willing to be held accountable. It will make a difference in every state of this Union.”


Georgia Governor Nathan Deal

The morning’s final speaker was an ardent supporter of Drug Courts, Acting-Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli. Director Botticelli spoke of the critical role Drug Courts play in the criminal justice system “We all rise when Drug Court graduates go back to school or back to work, pay their taxes and parent their children,” he said. “Their success strengthens our communities. Today is a celebration of the many reasons why Drug Courts do work.”

Michael Botticelli


And with that, the Opening Ceremony concluded and the 20th Annual NADCP Training Conference was underway!