New mental health court to debut in Brunswick County

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

BOLIVIA—On Thursday, March 5, Brunswick County Superior Court will have its first session of mental health court. The court’s debut will also be a first for the state, Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis said.

Lewis, who will preside over the mental health court, said three other mental health courts currently exist in the state—in Guilford, Orange and Mecklenburg counties—but said they are at the district court level.

“We have been seeing an increase in those persons who come before the court that have mental health issues and concerns. This court will give us an ability to give greater supervision and make sure that the mental health concerns and needs of those defendants who do not qualify for a Department of Corrections active sentence be met,” Lewis explained.

Mental health services continue to suffer budget cuts across the state, she added.

“We have put together a great team,” she said.

The team will be made up of defense attorney Joseph Causey, who served on the mental health board, and assistant district attorney Brooke Smith.

Mental health court will be like Lewis’ drug treatment court.

“It is a very non-adversarial setting and we’ll be working very closely with those mental health care providers, and assist those in getting the mental health care services that they need.”

Mental heath court will be held at 2 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month.