Supreme Court makes appointments to State Intervention Courts Advisory Committee

February 12, 2021

The Mississippi Supreme Court recently appointed Circuit Judge Robert P. Krebs of Pascagoula and Department of Corrections Deputy Commissioner Gary Young of Jackson to the State Intervention Courts Advisory Committee.

The Supreme Court appointed Justice Robert P. Chamberlin of Hernando to an indefinite term as committee chair. Justice Chamberlin has served in that role as a designee since May 2020. The other terms are for two years.

The Supreme Court also reappointed committee members including Circuit Judge Robert Helfrich of Hattiesburg; Circuit Judge Winston L. Kidd of Jackson; Circuit Judge Michael M. Taylor of Brookhaven; Circuit Judge Charles E. Webster of Clarksdale; Jackson County Court Judge Sharon Sigalas of Pascagoula; Stacey E. Pickering of Laurel, Executive Director of the State Veterans Affairs Board; Rep. Angela Cockerham of Magnolia; and Melody Madaris of Oxford, Director of Substance Abuse and EAP Services at Communicare, Region II Mental Health. Chief Justice Mike Randolph signed the appointment order on behalf of the unanimous Court on Jan. 19.

The state currently has 44 intervention courts. There are 22 adult felony drug intervention court programs – one in each of the 22 Circuit Court districts. There are four approved adult misdemeanor intervention court programs, 15 juvenile intervention courts and three family intervention courts.

The Supreme Court hopes to establish 16 new intervention courts. In 2019, the Legislature extended the definition of intervention courts to include veterans and mental health courts. In an effort to comply with this legislative directive, national best practices, standards, rules and policies of multi-state mental health and veteran intervention court were reviewed. Both the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Council of State Governments Justice Center consider the state of Georgia to be in the forefront of implementing evidence-based mental health courts, according to Pam Holmes, Director of Intervention Courts. “As a result of this research and considering the needs of our state, we made the recommendation to add eight mental health and eight veterans intervention courts in FY21 and FY22,” Holmes said.

The Fiscal Year 2022 Courts of Mississippi budget seeks the minimal amount necessary to fund these new courts, $1.3 million. “Without the minimal funding, compliance with the laudable statutory aspiration is not possible,” said Chief Justice Randolph.

The Legislature created the Advisory Committee to develop and periodically update proposed statewide evaluation plans and models for monitoring all critical aspects of drug courts. The Advisory Committee makes recommendations for improvements to intervention court policies and establishes guidelines for intervention court operations and determines funding formulas for all intervention courts.