Drug court certified


Coss: ‘Highlight of my tenure as judge’

For The Times-Gazette



Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss (left) is shown presenting a certification of completion to Sidney Merrick during a New Way to Recovery Drug Court Docket graduation held last year at Good News Gathering in Hillsboro.

Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss (left) is shown presenting a certification of completion to Sidney Merrick during a New Way to Recovery Drug Court Docket graduation held last year at Good News Gathering in Hillsboro.


Times-Gazette file photo

The Highland County Common Pleas Court New Way to Recovery Drug Docket has earned final certification from the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Specialized Dockets.

In order to receive the certification, the local court had to submit an application, undergo a site visit, and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went in to effect in January 2014.

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor congratulated the court and Judge Rocky A. Coss for receiving final certification.

“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” O’Connor said. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.”

Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. There are more than 210 specialized dockets in Ohio courts that deal with issues such as drugs and alcohol, mental health, domestic violence and human trafficking.

The standards provide a minimum level of uniform practices for specialized dockets throughout Ohio, and allow local courts to innovate and tailor to meet their community’s needs and resources.

“The establishment of the drug court docket has been one of the highlights of my tenure as a judge,” Coss said. “There are currently 33 active participants in the docket. Since we began the docket in August of 2019, 14 participants have graduate and another six are on track to graduate on June 26th. We have had a compliance rate of 75% during the nearly three years we have been operating, which is significantly above the normal community control compliance rate over a three-year period. I am grateful for the support of the advisory committee, the treatment team and providers, and the community for this program. It is proving that people with long histories of substance use disorder and criminal offenses can change the course of their lives and become productive, taxpaying citizens of our county.”

The certification requirements include establishing eligibility requirements, evaluating effectiveness of the specialized docket, and assembling a treatment team for implementing daily operations of the specialized docket. The team can include licensed treatment providers, law enforcement, court personnel, and is headed by the specialized docket judge.

The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts, the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts, and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel.

The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification.

Information for this story was provided by Rocky Coss.

Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss (left) is shown presenting a certification of completion to Sidney Merrick during a New Way to Recovery Drug Court Docket graduation held last year at Good News Gathering in Hillsboro.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/06/web1_Rocky-and-Sidney-Merrick.jpgHighland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss (left) is shown presenting a certification of completion to Sidney Merrick during a New Way to Recovery Drug Court Docket graduation held last year at Good News Gathering in Hillsboro. Times-Gazette file photo
Coss: ‘Highlight of my tenure as judge’

For The Times-Gazette