Scott VanDerKarr was featured in the May 2016 edition of the Columbus Monthly. Labeled the “Pioneering Drug Court Judge,” VanDerKarr is discussed throughout the article for his new role working with Brad Koffel and the team at The Koffel Law Firm.
Prior to joining the firm, VanDerKarr was one of the first drug court judges in Ohio, focusing on helping addicts, including those facing criminal penalties. The focus was on providing these individuals with treatment rather than them facing the consequences of the justice system. Now, after making waves in that capacity, VanDerKarr and Koffel are attempting to change the way the legal practice is handled. The new focus: catering to families of addicted individuals who are ready to help make a change.
Earlier this year, VanDerKarr and Koffel started the Preventative Law practice for parents who believe their child’s use of drugs is spiraling out of control or going downhill fast. This is the first program of its kind in the state of Ohio, providing legal help, counseling, advice, and assistance in one place. Preventative Law provides parents with counseling referrals, advice on drug rehab centers, and legal representation if their child faces criminal charges.
VanDerKarr started the drug court program in 2009 before starting one specifically for heroin addicts the following year. The court allowed defendants to meet with the drug court judge once a week as a group and discuss their progress. These individuals would be drug tested, and a failed test would potentially mean jail time. The program saw a 70% graduation rate.
In Preventative Law, VanDerKarr and Koffel discuss the history in the addict’s family and evaluate any criminal acts — stealing, violence, etc. — that may be involved to help support the addiction. Then a professional may be brought in to determine a plan of action and try to help the addict. If the addict refuses help or treatment, the parents may be encouraged to discuss turning the child in to police in certain situations. If this happens, Koffel and VanDerKarr urge the court to order the defendant to attend a drug treatment program.
The idea to start the Preventative Law program comes from both individual’s experience regarding drug addiction. Koffel’s own nephew was a victim to heroin overdose, and VanDerKarr lost a young relative as well. Both hope that as time goes on, the Preventative Law model becomes clearer and they can continue to help more individuals break out of addiction.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, call The Koffel Law Firm to discuss our Preventative Law practice and learn how we can help you and your family.