Photo: Superior Court Judge Paul Armstrong, who presides over the drug court in Somerset County and is chairman of the Statewide Committee of Drug Court Judges, addresses the conference of the National Association for Drug Court Professionals after New Jersey was awarded the organization’s Leadership Award. Carol Venditto, statewide drug court manager, is to the left looking on.
I had the privilege of sharing Friends information with over 100 drug court participants back in May which was Drug Court month. I traveled to Cape May and Atlantic County Drug Courts to give presentations and was afforded a captive audience before they were to stand in front of the judge. I consider the work of Friends a great honor. As the judge said after my presentation, “We need all the Friends we can get,” and he thanked me for giving the presentation. Wow, a judge thanking me? I’ve only had experience with a judge fining me and then I take the checkbook to the window to pay. My life has changed too.
I knew I wasn’t going to stand before the judge but I still felt nervous being in the courtroom. Perhaps I need to stop ‘judging.’ To my surprise the judge was pleasant and showed genuine concern toward the drug court participants. It was an experience I will cherish. Recently, New Jersey Drug Courts were honored nationally by the National Association for Drug Courts. New Jersey even has a committee of Drug Court Judges. Kudos to all the drug court workers and participants!