National Drug Court Month Ends on High Note in Florida

Pinellas Drug Court Grads Have a Friend in James Taylor


Courtesy St. Petersburg Times


Five-time Grammy winner James Taylor left his current tour to pay homage to Drug Court graduates at a National Drug Court Month commencement in Pinellas County, Florida yesterday. This singer joined NADCP, dozens of local dignitaries, and special guests at a ceremony honoring 100 graduates of the Pinellas County Adult Drug Court.

Taylor spoke openly to graduates about his thirty year recovery from addiction and applauded the Drug Court for building a broad coalition of community support. “I am overwhelmed,” he told the crowd. “I am inspired to see the backbone of this community caring for its own. I never thought something like Drug Court was possible but seeing it in person has restored my hope in humanity.” Speaking directly to graduates he said, “Now you must give back to the community which has given so much to you. Thank you for letting me take away the inspiration of your company.”

The ceremony began on a celebratory note when presiding Judge Dee Anna Farnell strode to the podium and proclaimed, ‘Hello Clearwater!” The packed audience enthusiastically returned the salutation. Judge Farnell reiterated that the day belonged to the graduates and that everyone present was there to support them. "These 100 people have made such valiant attempts at rehabilitation, and now they have so many doors open to them,” she said before quoting from James Taylor’s 1977 song The Secret of Life. “They have learned that ‘the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.’"

The ten year old Pinellas County Adult Drug Court serves over 1,200 participants and offers a wide range of treatment options and programs tailored to the specific needs of participants. “It’s a thrill to attend a commencement that so perfectly exemplifies what Drug Court is all about,” said NADCP CEO West Huddleston. “Witnessing 100 individuals graduate today is a powerful demonstration of the life-saving, community building work of Drug Courts.  Judge Farnell and her team are doing what it takes to face Florida’s prescription drug abuse and opiate addiction problem head on. Days like today leave no doubt that Drug Courts are a proven budget solution.”


Watch James Taylor Perform The Secret of Life



NADCP CEO West Huddleston chats with Angelo Dundee, Muhammad Ali’s legendary boxing trainer and "personal cornerman" for the Pinellas County Drug Court.


James Taylor and Judge Farnell applaud one of 100 Drug Court graduates.


James Taylor addresses the court.