The 72nd District Court for St. Clair County has a Mental Health Court program for individuals who commit misdemeanor offenses, and who suffer from a severe mental illness or learning disability.

Mental Health Court is a joint initiative between the St. Clair County court system and St. Clair County Community Mental Health (CMH). The Mental Health Court program is run by Judge John Tomlinson. The program provides a team approach – with members from CMH, District Court Probation, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and from the Public Defender’s Office.

Individuals must apply to be accepted into the Mental Health program. This is done by submitting a Mental Health Court Referral Form. The client is also required to contact CMH and complete an intake process, if the client is not already active with CMH.

The Mental Health Court team meets once a week to discuss potential candidates for the program, and to approve admissions into Mental Health Court.

If you are charged with a felony, and there is no plea agreement to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor, who will not be eligible for Mental Health Court.

Once accepted, the client must plead guilty to enter the program. There are no trials in Mental Health Court.

If your case is accepted into the program, the case will be transferred from District Court to Mental Health Court. A plea hearing date will then be scheduled before Judge Tomlinson.

Prior to the hearing, your attorney will receive a packet of information for you to review. These documents include the terms and conditions of participating in the program. These include: a requirement to allow the team access to your medical treatment records, an agreement to receive treatment through CMH, an agreement to not use alcohol or drugs, and an agreement to only take medications approved by CMH. These terms vary from participant to participant and are developed based on the individual’s unique circumstances.

At the hearing, you will enter a guilty plea. The Judge will then explain the rules and expectations of the program in detail.

An individual is able to participate in the Mental Health Court program for up to two years. During this time, the court team closely monitors the participant’s progress. The Court may impose sanctions for violating the terms of the program (i.e., community service or jail time), or provide rewards (i.e., gift certificates) as appropriate.

The Judge will require you to appear for review hearings during your time in the program. These review hearings may be weekly to begin with. The frequency of the review hearings will be determined by the Judge. It should be noted that the program is completely free. There are no fines/costs, and clients do not need to pay to drug and alcohol test.

Once all of the Mental Health Court terms are followed and the plan is completed successfully, the individual graduates from the program, and the court case is closed.