District Court will celebrate another specialty court graduation just as the program prepares to ramp up with a new infusion of funding. The newly minted specialty court grads will receive certificates and accolades on Friday, Jan. 15 at 2 p.m., in the Regional Justice Center jury services room at 200 Lewis Ave. The graduating class includes 64 participants from veterans court, mental health court, the OPEN program, drug court and felony DUI court; programs that have proven to be a successful way to get people off substance abuse and on track to productive lives.

The Nevada Legislature through the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Nevada Supreme Court has increased and consolidated funding for specialty courts with an additional $3 million for fiscal 2016 statewide. Southern Nevada, which includes limited jurisdiction courts, received $1.8 million of that funding. All courts plan to increase levels of participation in all programs.

The Eighth Judicial District Court will increase specialty drug court participation from 300 to 500. Felony DUI court is expected to increase from 450 to 550 participants. Mental Health Court will go from 100 to 200 participants. Veteran’s court is expected to increase from current levels to 45 participants. The OPEN program will grow to meet the need.

To meet the demands of this growing and challenging caseload, the court will diversify the specialty courts judicial assignments. Effective Feb. 16, Judge Adriana Escobar will continue to preside in courtroom 3F over felony DWI (serious offender program) and veteran’s court and assume Judge Carolyn Ellsworth’s civil calendar. Judge Ellsworth will handle drug court and keep her current criminal calendar in courtroom 16D. Chief Judge David Barker will handle mental health court and OPEN (Courtroom TBD).

“The specialty courts are an effective way to dispense justice and achieve rehabilitation,“ said Chief Judge Barker. “This new funding is much needed and will go further to ensure that those committing crimes and revolving through the justice system as a result of substance abuse, recover and go on to live productive lives.

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Judge Ellsworth will handle drug court and keep her current criminal calendar in courtroom 16D.