News

Judge Howorth, Judge Sigalas appointed to Drug Courts Advisory Committee

November 5, 2018

Circuit Judge Andrew K. Howorth of Oxford and Jackson County Court Judge Sharon W. Sigalas of Pascagoula have been appointed to the State Drug Courts Advisory Committee.

Retired Chancellor W. O. “Chet” Dillard

The Supreme Court made the appointments in an order signed by Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. and filed Nov. 2. The Supreme Court also reappointed Justice Robert P. Chamberlin of Hernando, 11th Circuit Judge Charles E. Webster of Clarksdale and 12th Circuit Judge Robert Helfrich of Hattiesburg. The appointees’ terms run through Dec. 31, 2020.

Members serve staggered terms. Administrative Office of Courts Director Kevin Lackey of Ridgeland is chairman. Other members are Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd of Jackson; Rep. Angela Cockerham of Magnolia; 14th Circuit Judge Michael M. Taylor of Brookhaven; Melody Winston of Madison, director of the Department of Mental Health Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services; and Christy M. Gutherz of Jackson, Department of Corrections deputy commissioner of Community Corrections.

Judge Howorth was appointed to replace Harrison County Court Judge Margaret Alfonso on the committee, and Judge Sigalas was appointed to replace Rankin County Court Judge Thomas Broome on the committee. Chief Justice Waller in the order said, “The Court extends its thanks and appreciation to the two out-going members...for their dedicated service as committee members.”

Judge Howorth has served as a circuit judge in the Third Circuit Court since January 2002. He presides over a Drug Court which he founded in 2007. The Third Circuit District includes Benton, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Lafayette, Marshall, Tippah and Union counties. Judge Howorth is former chairman of the Conference of Circuit Court Judges.

Judge Sigalas has served as a Jackson County Court Judge since January 2003. She presides over the Jackson County Youth Court and the Jackson County Juvenile Drug Court. She founded the Drug Court in 2008. Judge Sigalas is a leader of the Family First Initiative Advisory Council for Jackson County. The Family First Initiative is a pilot program aimed at preventing child neglect and reducing the number of children who are placed in foster care.

The State Drug Courts Advisory Committee was established by the Mississippi Legislature in 2003 to recommend improvements to drug court policies and procedures.

The state has 40 drug courts, including 22 adult felony drug courts, three adult misdemeanor drug courts, 12 youth drug courts and three family drug courts. More than 3,750 participants are enrolled statewide.

By addressing the root causes of criminal activity and substance use disorders, drug courts offer participants an alternative to incarceration. Drug courts provide participants access to resources and opportunities they need by coordinating the efforts of the judiciary, prosecution, defense counsel, probation, law enforcement, treatment, mental health and social service providers. This interdisciplinary approach offers participants the opportunity to become productive, law abiding citizens, which reduces recidivism and provides for healthier communities.

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