Join Everyday Law as we discuss the Problem Solving Courts — including Drug Court, Mental Health Court andVeterans Court — with Presiding Judge, Christopher Stride. These courts aim to look behind the criminal act that landed the defendant in the system, to the reasons “why,” such as drug addiction, mental illness, or difficulties adjusting to civilian life after serving our country in the military (or all three).
Judge Chris Stride presides over the Lake County Specialty Courts. There are 3 specialty courts; the VTAC (Veterans Treatment and Assistance Court), the Drug Court and the TIM (Therapeutic Intensive Monitoring) Court. These courts attempt to problem solve by exploring the root causes of defendant’s criminal behavior and treat those causes when possible.
Judge Stride grew up knowing that law was a demanding profession as his father was a lawyer. Stride did not immediately enter law school after college but worked in customer service and took some business classes. Stride always enjoyed writing, debate and public speaking and ultimately went to Valparaiso Law School. After law school, he briefly worked for his father’s law firm and then landed a job with the Lake County State’s Attorney. He greatly enjoyed his work as a prosecutor. Stride also had a solo practice, worked as a municipal prosecutor and defense attorney for a private firm and returned to the State’s Attorney before becoming a judge.
Typically, the prosecution of a criminal defendant looks at what happened (the crime) and who did it (the defendant). It is only at sentencing when the question of why the defendant committed the criminal act becomes relevant. Usually at sentencing, defense attorneys will present mitigating information about the defendant’s background such as drug addiction, past trauma or mental illness. Specialty courts attempt to look at these background issues and find alternatives to incarceration for defendants with mental illness, drug or veteran’s issues.
The oldest specialty court is the drug court (11 years). Eligible clients include those who have pled guilty, committed nonviolent crimes and have volunteered for the program. An individualized and stringent 24-30-month program is put in place for each client. When successful, this program saves money, prevents recidivism and helps the community.
The TIM Court attempts to destigmatize mental illness. This program is the most challenging in terms of resources as there are funding issues for mental health assistance. Unlike the Drug Court, the TIM Court will take clients pre-and post-conviction. The TIM Court program helps to monitor medical compliance, housing and therapy services.
The VTAC (Veterans Treatment and Assistance Court) works with veterans who have been honorably or generally discharged from the military and are involved in the court system. As with the TIM Court, the VTAC works with both pre- and post-conviction clients. Many veteran groups and institutions work with the Drug Court to get veterans the resources they need.
In addition to presiding over the Specialty Courts, with assistance from Judge Christy Bishop, Judge Stride also handles competency hearings, involuntary health commitments as well as felony arraignments. Additionally, he will be involved with a new program this fall for offenders with opiate addictions called STOP (Structured Treatment Opiate Program).
In addition to his responsibilities in the courtroom, Judge Stride is involved in community outreach stemming from an infamous case from Deerfield where parents were convicted and jailed for social hosting of an underage drinking party. That tragic case involved 2 deaths of youths who had been drinking at party in a Deerfield home. That conviction attracted a great deal of notoriety and resulted in the crime of social hosting becoming a felony. Judge Stride, Assistant State’s Attorney Ari Fisz and defense attorney Elliott Pinsel, who were all involved in the Deerfield case, speak to students and their parents about the case and its implications.
Robert Monahan, Esq. is a lawyer in Gurnee, IL with his own practice in personal injury. He has a radio show on Thursday nights at 7 pm, called “Everyday Law,” on WRLR 98.3 FM, where he tries to demystify the law for the ordinary person. “Everyday Law” can be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes or other various podcatchers. His two websites are www.monahanfirm.com and www.gurneepersonalinjuryattorney.com. He also has two Facebook pages – “Robert A. Monahan, Esq.” and “Everyday Law.”