Division Chief/Mental Health Diversion Attorney: Molly Wright
Drug Treatment Court Attorney: Kathy Downs
Community Court Attorney: Shannon Garvey
Alternative Placement Coordinator: Carolyn Marshall
Master Social Worker: Simona Reising
Paralegal: Deliscia Lewis
The Marion County Public Defender Agency created the Problem Solving Division in 2013 to ensure the most effective representation for our clients in the ever growing national movement toward specialized courts that have been created to address the underlying issues that bring our clients into the criminal justice system. These programs require a legal team that is not only experienced in the traditional practice of law but specifically trained.
Our current Problem Solving Courts include the Marion County Drug Treatment Diversion/Reentry Court, Community Court, and the Mental Health diversion program, known as “PAIR.” In the near future, a Veteran’s Court and a Forensic Diversion Court are in the works. Each of these courts encompasses the problem solving court paradigms of therapeutic jurisprudence, accountability and restorative justice. These courts allow for a nontraditional approach, diverting clients out of the regular criminal justice system and placing them in programs that address their underlying criminogenic needs in addition to offering them a dismissal of their charges.
The Public Defender Agency becomes a member of a “treatment team” along with the Court, the treatment providers, and the Prosecutor’s office, all cooperating to assist the clients through the specialized court toward successful completion with the goal that successful participants will not return to the criminal justice system.
The specialized court defender’s role remains unique and set apart from the rest of the team and still has as the hallmark feature the protection of the rights of the criminally accused client. Further, this division fights to ensure that our clients’ due process rights are continually protected throughout their participation in these courts. Once the specialized court is formed, the trained problem solving court lawyer will work closely with the clients to educate them on their rights, inform them of the evidence against them, discuss their alternative options, and once the clients’ decision is made to participate in a problem solving court, to inform them how to best succeed in the programs to get them toward a successful graduation from the programs.
These problem solving courts have proven to significantly reduce recidivism rates, stop the continual “revolving door” of the traditional criminal justice system, and save taxpayer money by avoiding the cost of prison, jail stays and the cost of ongoing criminal activity to the community. They are proven effective in almost every setting and in every analysis, improving the lives of our clients and the lives of those in our communities.