Two Defeated Drug-Court Judges Will Continue Working For Free, For A While

Amidst today's celebration for the 12 graduates of the STAR (Success Through Addiction Recovery) Drug Court Program, there was also a surprising announcement.

"This very afternoon the board of judges agreed ... for Judge [Mike] Wilkinson and I to, pro-bono, continue our drug-court dockets," said Judge Caprice Cosper. "Ya'll can't get rid of me quite that easily," she joked.

Cosper and Wilkinson lost their re-election bids in November's Democratic semi-sweep, but in order to avoid hiccups in the transition process, they'll stay on until their remaining clients - the term for participants in the program - have graduated.

"There is discussion about actually having a full-time drug-court magistrate," said Cosper, who was awarded Best Criminal Judge in our 2003 Best of Houston issue for her thoughtful handling of the drug-court system.

The STAR program has already produced more than 160 success stories since it began in 2003. Cosper says its continuance will help Houston steer drug enforcement toward rehabilitating addicts instead of just sending them to prison.

Although Cosper and Wilkinson will ride out their dockets, the former seats of drug court judges Brock Thomas and Devon Anderson will be filled by Vanessa Velasquez and Mike Anderson, respectively.

-- Dusti Rhodes

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