Lawton E. Stephens, H. Patrick Haggard, and Eric W. Norris, Judges of the Western Judicial Circuit, announce that Judge Eric W. Norris has been selected to preside over the Mental Health Court of Athens-Clarke County, commonly referred to as Treatment and Accountability Court, effective August 1, 2017.
The Treatment and Accountability Court was created in 2008 to ensure that offenders with serious mental illness, often with co-occurring substance abuse disorders, be given the opportunity to take responsibility for their criminal conduct while receiving intensive treatment. Participants must comply with a comprehensive long-term plan of treatment while they work daily to maintain sobriety and to understand and improve their mental health. The close supervision of Treatment and Accountability Court has created opportunities for 275 individuals to break a routine of regular jail stays and use effective tools that promote stable and crime-free lives.
Accountability courts are designed to serve as an alternative to incarceration by providing a rigid and successful treatment program that maintains high levels of participant accountability. Participants in these programs, upon successful completion and graduation, typically receive reductions in their sentences, lower fines, and other incentives.
In addition to Treatment and Accountability Court, the Western Judicial Circuit has Felony Drug Court, directed by Judge Lawton E. Stephens; Veterans Court, directed by Judge H. Patrick Haggard; DUI/Drug Court, directed by Judge Charles E. Auslander; and Family Dependency Treatment Court, directed by Judge Robin Shearer.
Judge David R. Sweat, who served as Chief Judge from January 1, 2013 until July 31, 2017, was instrumental in the creation of the Treatment and Accountability Court and presided over it from 2008 until his retirement.
Judge Eric W. Norris commenced his position on the Superior Court bench in April 2016, having been appointed by Governor Nathan Deal pursuant to the passage of a bill passed in 2015 in the state legislature creating a fourth judgeship to help handle the caseload in the Western Judicial Circuit. Prior to becoming a Superior Court judge, he served as Oconee County Magistrate and had a private practice specializing in family law in Watkinsville.
Judge Norris holds a bachelor’s degree from North Georgia College & State University and a law degree from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children and reside in Watkinsville.
For more information on the Treatment and Accountability Court, visit www.athensclarkecounty.com/tac.