Behind the Scenes of Drug Court

Memorandum of Understanding | Daily Court Administration | Weekly Drug Court Staffings | Weekly Drug Court Sessions

Each team member has a responsibility to the team. Team members coordinate their efforts weekly with the Drug Court Coordinator to be sure that the Drug Court Judge has all of the information both positive and negative he/she needs on Drug Court Day.

All of the team members have entered in to a Memorandum of Understanding which clearly outlines the goals, objectives and responsibilities of each team member.


Memorandum of Understanding Binghamton Adult Drug Treatment Court (June 12, 2002)

Agreement by and between the Broome County District Attorney, Public Defender, Broome County Probation Department, Broome County Sheriff, Binghamton Police Department, other Law Enforcement Agencies, County Agencies, Alcohol and Drug Addiction Programs, Salvation Army, Other Ancillary Service Providers and Binghamton City Court.

WHEREAS, the parties to this Agreement endorse the goals and mission of Drug Court in order for defendants to eliminate future criminal behavior and improve the quality of their lives. For this program to be successful, cooperation must occur within a network of systems in order to facilitate and achieve the mission of Drug Court.

WHEREAS, the parties to this Agreement agree that the following should be the mission of the Drug Court: “The Binghamton Adult Drug Treatment Court provides qualified addicted offenders a comprehensive drug treatment program under intensive judicial supervision which includes educational and vocational training. The offenders addiction and family environment will be addressed with goals of returning a sober, productive person to society, reuniting families, reducing welfare roles and enhancing public safety.

WHEREAS, there are nine principles under which the respective agencies will work cooperatively, and they are:

  1. Drug addiction is a chronic disease often characterized by relapse which, if unaddressed, may lead to continuing and increasing criminal behavior and other personal, family, and societal problems.
  2. The Drug Court is an opportunity to direct those in crisis with addictions to begin a rehabilitation process which might ultimately lead to a reduction or elimination of their addiction and permit the development of a productive lifestyle.
  3. There must be immediate intervention, which permits the treatment option to be made available to a defendant at the earliest possible time while this person is still in crisis.
  4. Defendants will be evaluated by trained staff as early as possible so they can be given an opportunity to take advantage of the resources offered through a Drug Court.
  5. Defendants must be accountable for their behavior and must take responsibility for ensuring their own recovery through the options made available to them by the Court and the community. Defendants accountability will be enforced through participation in the program as outlined in the program plan and written agreements. Individual service plans will be developed to address their addiction and other related problems. There will be immediate recognition for successes as well as immediate and appropriate consequences for failure to perform.
  6. An evaluation that measures the outcomes for individual defendants in the process of the Drug Court program is essential. That part of this evaluation is an annual report distributed to all members of the Drug Court team setting forth the incidence of recidivism among drug court graduates as derived from available justice system resources.
  7. That participants entry into the Drug Court Program shall be governed by written eligibility criteria set forth in a document signed by all Drug Court team members.
  8. All parties will have equal access to information given to the Court to the extent permitted by law.
  9. Graduation from the program, either the public ceremony or the court graduation, requires that the client have 365 continuous clean and sober days immediately preceding the graduation date.

Individual Agency Responsibilities and Staff Commitments

District Attorney

  1. A district attorney will be assigned to the Drug Court program for the entire term of this agreement
  2. The district attorney will assist in identifying non-violent defendants arrested for specified charges
  3. The district attorney will (include disposition of matter after conclusion of case)
  4. For those felony defendants ( include district attorneys agreement)
  5. The district attorney agrees that a positive drug test or open court admission of drug possession or use will not result in the filing of additional drug charges based on that admission; and
  6. The district attorney makes decisions regarding the participants continued enrollment in the program based on performance in treatment rather than on legal aspects of the case, barring additional criminal behavior.
  7. The district attorney will participate as an active member of the drug court team.

Public Defender

  1. The public defenders office advises the defendant as to the nature and purpose of the drug court, the rules governing participation, the consequences of abiding or failing to abide by the rules, and how participating or not participating in the drug court will affect his or her interests;
  2. The public defenders office explains all of the rights that the defendant will temporarily or permanently relinquish;
  3. The public defenders office explains that because criminal prosecution for admitting to alcohol or drug use in open court will not be invoked, the defendant is encouraged to be truthful with the judge and treatment staff, and informs the participants that he or she will be expected to speak directly to the judge, not through an attorney.
  4. The public defender shall review the clients progress in treatment and advocate appropriately when the client is facing sanctions for non-compliance, when seeking early termination of probation, or at the time of sentencing should be client be terminated from Drug Court.
  5. The public defender will participate as an active member of the Drug Court Team.

Probation Department

  1. A full-time probation officer will be assigned to provide field supervision of up to 100 Drug Court participants as funding permits.
  2. The probation department will provide supervision and case management services to the Drug Court caseloads.
  3. The probation department will participate in weekly case reviews with the judge and the other teams members.
  4. Probation will provide on-site probation reports to the Judge
  5. Probation will conduct an assessment of suitability for the drug court treatment program and make specific recommendations relating to treatment needs of the defendant.
  6. Probation will provide observed drug testing on-site as necessary or requested.
  7. The probation department will participate as an active member of the Drug Court Team.

Drug Court County Agencies, Treatment Providers, and Ancillary Services providers

  1. After the initial screening by the Drug Court Coordinator and with the recommendation of the Drug Court Team, the County Agencies, Treatment Providers and ancillary service providers will assess clients to determine alcohol and drug related problems and readiness for treatment, educational needs, vocational assessments, medical assessments, legal assessments, housing needs and screen for mental health issues and report same to the Drug Court Team within a week from completion of the assessment.
  2. The County Agencies, Treatment Providers and ancillary service providers will provide treatment, housing and training as needed/recommended
  3. The County Agencies, Treatment Providers and ancillary service providers will make individualized recommendations to the court for placement in a specified program(s) and will provide weekly status reports to the Drug Court Coordinator.
  4. Treatment Providers will be monitored by OASAS
  5. Treatment Providers will be present and participate in bi-weekly Drug Court staffings
  6. The County Agencies, Treatment Providers, and ancillary service providers will provide monitored, random U.A. testing (if applicable to service provider) and supportive documentation to the Drug Court Coordinator on all positive U.A.’s, (maintaining a sample for positive tests that are contested) and progress in Treatment and program requirements as outlined in participants program. Positive U.A.’s will be reported immediately by phone, e-mail or fax to the Drug Court Coordinator as well as through the Universal Treatment application (if applicable).
  7. The County Agencies, Treatment Providers will provide a comprehensive treatment, education and vocational counseling program to each defendant.
  8. The County Agencies, Treatment Providers and ancillary service providers will participate as an active member of the Drug Court Team.

Sheriff, City Police Department and other Law Enforcement Agencies

  1. The Sheriff will provide in-custody and counseling services for those returning to custody as part of smart punishment
  2. The Sheriff will provide access to in-custody treatment to the extent possible
  3. The Sheriff and City Police Department will coordinate the dissemination of Drug Court information to potential candidates within the sheriffs facilities and City Lockups.
  4. The Sheriff will cooperate in dressing out defendants and releasing defendants from the courtroom directly into treatment.
  5. The Sheriff, City Police Department and other Law Enforcement Agencies will provide information to the Drug Court team when observations are made on the street of potential drug court violations
  6. The Sheriff, City Police Department and other Law Enforcement Agencies will participate as an active member of the Drug Court Team.

Binghamton City Court

  1. In order to ensure the consistent operation of the Drug Court, the Court will make at lease one-year assignment of a judge to the Drug Court.
  2. The Court assumes the primary role to motivate and monitor the defendants who appear before the Drug Court.
  3. The Court will actively represent the Drug Court in the community and appear before governmental agencies, public commissions, legislative hearings, public forums, and the media.
  4. The Court will ensure a cooperative atmosphere for attorneys, clerks, probation officers, pre-trial personnel and treatment providers to stay focused on the task of providing drug offenders with treatment.
  5. The Court will take the lead in the development and implementation of a discreet management information system and evaluation process.
  6. The Court will provide the appropriate positive incentives which the Court deems necessary and with the recommendation of the Drug Court Team
  7. The Court will participate as an active member of the Drug Court Team

Binghamton City Court Manager(s) and Coordinator

  1. The City Court Manager(s) and Coordinator will participate in the oversight of the Drug Court program.
  2. The City Court Manager(s) and Coordinator will assist the Drug Court Team with the monitoring and evaluation of Drug Court when appropriate.
  3. The Coordinator will seek funding sources, respond to grant applications, implement and monitor grant funds with the supervision and review of the Court Managers and District Office and provide fiscal, narrative and statistical information as required by the funding source to insure the ongoing operation of the Drug Court.
  4. The City Court Manager(s) and Coordinator will provide yearly strategic planning meetings with county administrators or insure stability, support and on-going accountability for the drug court program.
  5. The City Court Manager(s) and Coordinator will provide leadership and direction under the supervision of the Executive Assistant and Sixth Judicial Administrative Judge to insure compliance with the National Standards set forth by The National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
  6. The Coordinator will be responsible for the preparation of the annual report setting forth the incidence of recidivism among other drug court graduates under the supervision of the Court Managers.
  7. The Coordinator will identify and screen possible participants for the Drug Court Program.
  8. The Coordinator will clinically screen participants and link to appropriate treatment.
  9. The Coordinator will oversee and monitor counseling and treatment to ensure that the participants needs are being met.
  10. The Coordinator will have knowledge of every client, their treatment program, and the phase status.
  11. The Coordinator will update and maintain the UTA.
  12. The City Court Manager(s) and Coordinator will participate as an active member of the Drug Court Team.

Drug Court Steering Committee

All parties agree to continue to be represented in this group. This group will be responsible for modifying and amending this Agreement. They will address problems and issues as identified and develop policy and program modifications.

Agreement Modifications

Any individual Agency wishing to amend/modify this Agreement will notify the Drug Court Committee of the issue(s). The Drug Court Steering Committee will address that issue(s) for the purposes of modifying/amending the issue(s). The issue will be decided by consensus (if possible) or by simple majority.

Termination of Agreement

Individual Agencies contemplating termination of their participation in this Agreement shall first notify the Drug Court Steering Committee of their concern. The Steering Committee will attempt to resolve the problem to ensure continuation of the Drug Court. If unable to resolve the problem, the individual Agency or Department can exercise its right to terminate this agreement by notifying all other Agencies in writing a minimum of 90 days prior to such termination.


IN WITNESS THEREOF, the parties have caused their duly authorized representative to execute this agreement.

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Daily Court Administration

Each morning a court manager reviews the arrests and criminal history from the prior day to determine if a case may be eligible for Drug Court.

Consideration for Drug Court by the manager or any team member is based upon the following eligibility criteria:

Eligibility Criteria

The guidelines used to identify and enter offenders into the drug court program.

Offender Characteristics

  • Resident of Broome County or homeless in Broome County
  • Chemically Dependent including Methadone
  • Criminal History (non-violent and case by case)
  • Dual Diagnosis (case by case)
    Adult over 16 (over 18 for residential placement)
  • Learning disabilities (case by case dependent upon services)


  • Drug Possession
  • Low Level Felony Drug Sales
  • All non-violent Misdemeanor (some case by case)
  • Non violent felonies (some case by case)

Upon recommendation to the program, the District Attorney's Office, Public Defender's Office, Probation and the Drug Court Coordinator are notified that an individual should be considered for the program.

Any team member, may also recommend someone for the Drug Court Program. Even a potential participant can ask to be considered for Drug Court.

Once a potential Drug Court Participant meets the eligibility criteria and is approved first by the District Attorney and then the team, the participant is scheduled for an assessment with the Drug Court Coordinator.

Drug Court participants are required to call in each evening to determine if they need to appear for a random urine screen. If their color is up, they must appear the next day between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (summer hours between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.)

The Drug Court Coordinator has daily communication with the Drug Court Judge, participants, treatment providers and other various ancillary services relative to a participants progress or in some cases relapse. The coordinator has the ability to find quick safe housing and residential treatment for participants within a short period of time.


Weekly Staffings

The Binghamton Adult Drug Treatment Court staff session takes place every Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.

Each week the Drug Court team meets to discuss each participant prior to the Drug Court Session. The Drug Court Coordinator facilitates the meeting relaying information about the participants progress over the past week.

The Drug Court Coordinator will also discuss new assessments that were done and ask for consideration for treatment and admission in to the program.

Team members who have had contact with the participants will also relay pertinent information from their agencies relative to the participants program progress.

At each weekly staffing participants are considered for:

  • Praise by the Court for a week in compliance
  • Certificates of recognition for days clean (i.e., 60, 90 etc)
  • Phase movement certificates
  • Graduation date
  • Sanctions for program violations

If a participant requires a sanction, the team will discuss the severity of the program violation, review past sanctions and decide as a team which sanction will best suit the situation from a list of sanctions developed by the Drug Court team.

Once the weekly staffing session is completed, the team members proceed in to Court for the weekly Drug Court session.

Urine screens are also done on all Drug Court participants prior to the Drug Court Session.


Weekly Drug Court Sessions

The Binghamton Adult Drug Treatment Court meets every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom #1.

Each participant is called to the bench and they are questioned by the presiding Judge about their week. The Judge will congratulate them on a successful week, give them a certificate if required or allow them to take something from the "goodie" basket for doing well.

Applause is often heard in the Drug Court setting to give participants the encouragement they need to head in to the next week.

Should a participant require a sanction, that sanction is immediate and if the sanction is jail an officer will escort the participant to the holding facility.

All Drug Court participants are required to stay for the entire Drug Court Session and encourage each other.

Drug Court participants are also advised the status of fellow Drug Court participants that are not present. (i.e. warrant issued for non-compliance or no appearance at Drug Court).

The Drug Court session is a POSITIVE experience for team members and participants filled with smiles, applause and hope for each participants success.

Attitude is Everything