Kentucky chief justice unveils opioid-related court initiative

Kentucky Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s chief justice has unveiled a statewide initiative to help the judicial system respond to the opioid epidemic that has put a strain on courts.

Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr. said Thursday that the effort aims to better equip judges, circuit court clerks and court personnel to deal with the challenges caused by drug addiction.

Minton says the program will help judges as they steer drug offenders into recovery programs. He says the initiative will help provide evidence-based information on best court practices to support treatment of drug addiction.

Kentucky has been hard hit by the wave of addictions to opioid painkillers.

The program is called R.E.S.T.O.R.E. — short for  Responsive Education to Support Treatment in Opioid Recovery Efforts. Funding for the initiative will come from a federal grant awarded to the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services as part of its Kentucky Opioid Response Effort.

Kentucky judges and court staff will be invited to two one-day summits this year that the Administrative Office of the Courts says will be offered in each of the seven appellate districts.

R.E.S.T.O.R.E. has a leadership team that will plan the summits. Nine judges from circuit, family and district courts are on the team, as well as a circuit court clerk and representatives from the AOC Departments of Family & Juvenile Services, Pretrial Services and Specialty Courts, the AOC says in a news release about the initiative.

Judges and court officials from across the state attended the announcement at the state Capitol on Thursday.