Idealism and ambition, two seemingly contradictory traits, are often at the heart of reform. While Miami had started the first treatment-based drug court (1989), it would ultimately lose its leadership of the field, with the formation of NADCP in 1994 and its more “universal” approach to the Drug Court Model
Founding F.I.R.S.T Drug Court Judge Jeffrey Tauber appeared before the Alameda County Board of Supervisors (along with Judge Joan Cartwright and other supporters), arguing for the retention of the innovative Oakland F.I.R.S.T. Drug Court, in the face of looming budget deficits [photo by Frank Tapia]
1992: MEETING MIAMI DRUG COURT JUDGE STANLEY GOLDSTEIN
IT was kind of like a Circus. A small court, with room for perhaps a hundred persons. Everyone crowded in, talking at the same time, but dominated by the booming voice of the judge. Stanley Goldstein had something of an unusual background for a judge. A former used car salesman and motorcycle cop, he spoke with what sounded like a heavy New York accent and usually over everyone else within the courtroom. Assistant Presiding Judge, Herbert Klein, the architect of Miami’s Drug Court, is said to have picked him because he saw in him special traits that would make for an exceptional drug court judge; tough, street wise and irascible but also caring and funny all at the same time. I learned a lot from Stanley Goldstein.
Stanley would take the bench like a police magistrate in a screwball comedy. He exhorted the masses to pay attention and proceed through a long calendar at a prodigious clip. Congratulating those who did well and castigating those with positive drug tests; he spoke to everyone in the same loud and brash way. The people loved it. He had one joke I heard him tell more than once. “Many of you will notice members of your family pass away as you progress through this program; some of you will fail to appear in court, grieving for your loved ones, sometimes, the same loved-one, two or three different times.”
He let everyone know that he was in on their scam, he was not to be taken for a fool, nor would he put up with “the crap” that many tried to put over on him. I learned to talk straight and sometimes say the outrageous, from Stanley. As a matter of fact, the outrageous was what made the Miami Drug Court work. Most defendants who come to court are either nodding off from drugs or from shear boredom. That wasn’t going to happen on Stanley’s watch. This was rehabilitation and confession as entertainment. Showmanship and education clothed as court proceedings. You could tell he was having a good time and that made all the difference.
[I didn’t visit Miami’s Drug Court until 1992, while the Oakland Drug Court began its start-up in the summer of 1990. We had no information on the Miami program until the summer of 1991, when a two-page summary of the Miami Drug Court found its way to Oakland.]
THE STATE OF DRUG COURT EDUCATION
I was interested in what made the drug court model tick. Partly because I wanted to distill the essence of the drug court for general consumption, partially to establish “universal principles” we could all agree on, and partially to make my name in the field.
When I spoke to Stanley that first time in chambers, I was somewhat in awe. He dominated the court in a way that I hadn’t seen before. But I was also interested in his understanding of what was going on under the hood of the Miami drug court. Stanley didn’t have much to say about that.
[Assistant Presiding Judge Herbert Klein, the architect of the Miami Drug Court, perhaps would have been a better interview; he had been given a year to design the Miami Drug Court, which included visits to existing drug courts and other relevant sites (i.e. the TASC administered Chicago Drug Court, presided over by Judge Michael Getty)]
I saw Stanley often at conferences over the next six to eight years. I learned that what made him a great drug court judge didn’t necessarily make for a great educator. His presentations began and ended with what had been accomplished in Miami.
By 1992, there was an emerging cadre of judges claiming credit for whatever success drug courts had achieved. I wanted us to get beyond drug court judges lecturing on how “they” made drug court work. The idea that one needed the charisma of a Stanley Goldstein to do the work was a serious issue for many who were considering starting a drug court (and one the field needed to overcome).
Yet, anyone who had worked in a functional drug court knew that it was the drug court team and the program’s structure and community base that was critical to the success of the program. Their effective functioning was not getting the attention on the conference circuit or in training sessions that they deserved. It was up to those of us who understood the drug court , to analyze, describe, and publish documents on the workings of the drug court model and the principles underlying them.