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Mental Health Court Summaries


Cochise County

Sierra Vista Justice Court

100 Colonia De Salud, Ste. 108
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635

Honorable Timothy Dickerson, Presiding Judge
John Schow, Court Administrator

Established year: 2011
Program Type: Combined Deferred Prosecution and Post-Conviction


Program Description

In 2005, Judge Timothy Dickerson was approached by representatives of Southeastern Arizona Behavioral Health Services (SEABHS) with a proposal to create a mental health court program in Sierra Vista, the population center of Cochise County. SEABHS, a behavioral health treatment provider agency, had a contractual agreement at the time to operate under the auspices of RBHA. The Sierra Vista Justice Court conducted the Provisional Rehabilitation Accountability (PRA) Program from 2005 until 2009, when the Arizona Department of Health Services awarded a new RBHA contract to of Arizona. This transition disrupted the operation of the PRA Program for approximately 18 months. Operations resumed in 2011 after representatives from Arizona Counseling & Treatment Services, a behavioral health treatment provider agency subcontracting with Cenpatico, approached the former PRA Program judge and prosecutor with interest in operating the treatment component of the program to support reinstatement.



Coconino County

Flagstaff Justice Court

200 N. San Francisco St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Honorable Howard Grodman, Justice of the Peace
Shelly Bacon, Deputy Court Administrator

Established year: 2012
Program Type: Combined Deferred Prosecution and Post-Conviction


Program Description

In 2012, Judge Howard Grodman approached the county attorney’s office, public defender’s office, and local mental health treatment provider agencies, The Guidance Center and Southwest Behavioral Health, to ascertain the degree of interest in a new mental health court program. With the support of these agencies, as well as Coconino County Superior Court, adult probation department, police department, Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (NARBHA), and the Coconino County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the Coconino County Mental Health Court Program was established in May 2012. Flagstaff Justice Court adopted Flagstaff Municipal Court’s Mental Health Court program model with a few amendments: The Justice Court program adopted an expanded admissions policy to include not only misdemeanors but also felony-level cases and to accept defendants not only pre-plea on a deferred prosecution basis but also post-conviction. The Coconino County Mental Health Court Program accepts defendants transferred to Flagstaff Justice Court from Coconino County Superior Court to be judicially supervised in the mental health court program as a mandatory term of their adjudicated felony probation sentence.


Flagstaff Municipal Court

15 N. Beaver St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Honorable Thomas L. Chotena, Presiding Magistrate
Cathy Harrison, Deputy Court Administrator

Established year: 2006
Program Type: Deferred Prosecution


Program Description

Flagstaff Municipal Court's Mental Health Court program began in November of 2006. Following the Tucson Municipal and Tempe Mental Health Court models, the initiative to establish the Flagstaff Municipal Mental Health Court resulted from a desire to improve the process for managing the high volume of and to produce better criminal justice outcomes for mentally ill defendants. The official mental health court program description indicates that "the initial procedures, protocols and terms of participation were developed over a 12-month period of time through the cooperation of the Flagstaff City Court, Prosecutor, Public Defender, The Guidance Center, NARBHA, Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Flagstaff Police Department, and the Coconino County's (CJCC) - Mental Health Substance Abuse Subcommittee".



Maricopa County

Chandler Municipal Court

200 E. Chicago St.
Chandler, AZ 86001

Honorable Alicia M. Skupin, Judge
Brenda Damp, Court Administrator
Rebecca Delgado, Court Clerk

Established year: 2014
Program Type: Deferred Prosecution


Program Description

The Chandler Mental Health program began in October of 2014, with the goal of reducing recidivism and diverting the participants from incarceration to more appropriate and effective treatment services, including behavioral modification support and housing. The court works closely with the City Prosecutor, Defense Attorney’s and various mental health professionals to ensure the participants who have a diagnosis of Serious Mental Illness (SMI) or General Mental Health (GMH) receive equal access to the justice system while addressing their individualized needs.


Glendale Municipal Court

5711 W. Glendale Ave.
Glendale, AZ 85301

Honorable Carla Bastien, Presiding Judge
Veronica Santiago, Clerk of the Court

Established year: 2013
Program Type: Deferred Prosecution


Program Description

The Glendale City Mental Health Court was implemented by Judge Elizabeth Finn on January 2, 2013. Until that point, the court was unable to adequately address the needs of defendants with mental illnesses. This caused a significant financial strain on the court’s budget for increasing costs for Rule 11 doctors as well as the cost for in custody MCSO defendants from Glendale detention’s budget. The court was founded to cut costs by streamlining the process for defendants with mental health issues and connecting them to services. Reductions in failure to appear costs for Rule 11 doctor examinations ($150/defendant), reductions in overall Rule 11 doctors’ examinations and reductions in jail costs (reducing time in jail and by integrating third-party release from jail directly to services) have significantly reduced the court’s and detention’s budget. A planning committee conducted a need assessment for the program prior to implementation. The court matched four years of RHBA clients with the court’s list of defendants and found significant crossover, justifying the need for this program. The program operated at no cost to the city until the numbers increased in 2017 to the extent of having a weekly mental health court.


Phoenix Municipal Court

300 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003-2103

Honorable Michael Hintze, Judge
Will Gonzalez, Executive Court Administrator

Established year: 2015
Program Type: Deferred Prosecution


Program Description

The Behavioral Health Court (BHC) provides a problem-solving alternative court setting for the unique needs of individuals with Serious Mental Illness (SMI), behavioral health, special needs (such as Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) & Developmental Disabilities (DD)) or co-occurring disorders. The goals of the BHC include: improve public safety by reducing criminal recidivism; improve the quality of life of people with behavioral health issues and increase their participation in effective treatment; and, to reduce court and corrections related costs through administrative efficiencies by providing an alternative to incarceration when possible. The goals are accomplished through early intervention, increased treatment engagement, collaboration and coordination with criminal justice partners, behavioral health experts, peer support and other community support agencies. Although a departure from traditional systems of justice, this approach has been proven effective in Phoenix and other jurisdictions. The Behavioral Health Court is a collaboration of the Municipal Court, Public Defender’s Office, Prosecutor’s Office and the behavioral health professionals working these specialized cases together with individuals who have been assessed and assigned to the BHC. By creating an improved cross-system collaboration model, the success of the BHC translates to a healthier and safer community for all.


Superior Court in Maricopa County

101 W. Jefferson St., Ste. 511
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Honorable Jay M. Polk, Judge
Sheila Tickle, Court Administrator
Jessica Hernandez, Central SMI Supervisor
Jessica Ethington, West SMI Supervisor
Suzanne Shirleson, East SMI Supervisor
David Taylor, Division Director

Established year: 2004
Program Type: Post-Conviction


Program Description

Maricopa Superior Court’s operation with the SMI Specialized Probation Caseload began in 2004. This caseload operates within a larger context of the Maricopa Consolidated Mental Health Court. A clear benefit of this “Consolidated” mental health court is that the dockets operating within this court are interrelated, covering a range of mental health issues (e.g., guardianship, competency). The mental health court operates a docket to provide judicial support and oversight for probationers on specialized caseloads who have serious mental illnesses.


Tempe Municipal Court

140 E. 5th St., Ste. 200
Tempe, AZ 85281

Honorable Kevin Kane, Presiding Judge
Alexis Allen, Court Administrator

Established year: 2003
Program Type: Deferred Prosecution


Program Description

Tempe Mental Health Court is a problem-solving treatment court program with weekly dockets. The program was established in 2003, to address the unique needs of participants with mental illness and/or developmental disabilities. It’s a cooperative effort among the judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, and treatment team working together to address the participant's behavioral health and other needs, create treatment and service referrals, and assist participants in achieving goals and successfully completing the program. The program aims to address pending charges and life situations such as medical conditions, unemployment, lack of education, homelessness, behavioral health issues, including drug or alcohol abuse that may be contributing to the participant's charges and reduce the possibility of reoffending.



Mohave County

Mohave County Infant and Toddler Mental Health Court

127 East Beale Street
Kingman, AZ 86402

Kimberly Chappelear, Director
Amber Hurley, Program Specialist
Debra Cobb, Assistant


Program Description

The Court Team's strategy is to improve outcomes for infants, toddlers and their families involved in the child welfare system in order to reduce or prevent future court involvement. Through its implementation, informed local communities can strengthen the support and care for young children and their families in the Juvenile Court system. This is accomplished through training, shared planning, and regular consultation of those agencies working with a child and family. The Court Team may recommend and refer the child and family for services but does not directly provide these services. The Court Team is comprised of juvenile dependency judges, attorneys, Department of Child Safety managers, Foster Care Review Board, Court Appointed Special Advocates, First Things First, foster agency representatives, early intervention specialists, and other community stakeholders invested in helping Mohave’s infants and toddlers in the child welfare system. The role of the Court Team is to raise awareness amongst community members and professionals who work with maltreated infants and toddlers of the negative impact abuse and neglect have on our youngest children and to change local systems to improve outcomes and help prevent future court involvement. Team Mission: Providing a collaborative system to prepare and promote a healthy environment for children birth to three and their families.



Pima County

Pima County Consolidated Justice Court

240 N. Stone Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701

Honorable Erica Cornejo, Justice of the Peace
Tina Mattison, Court Administrator

Established year: 2009
Program Type: Combined Deferred Prosecution and Post-Conviction


Program Description

The Pima County Consolidated Justice Court (PCCJC) began operating an informal mental health court in 2000 as an effort to respond in a new way to the volume of mentally ill offenders circulating through the criminal justice system. Several tragedies in the Tucson area – crimes borne of mental illness – heightened awareness of the link between mental health and criminal justice in the community consciousness. The PCCJC community viewed early identification and efforts to connect mentally ill offenders with treatment services as a partial solution to reduce recidivism driven by mental illness and provide these individuals with a chance for a better life. In 2009 the program transformed the initiative into a formal PCCJC Mental Health Court program, modeled after the longstanding mental health court program at the local Tucson City Court. The Honorable, Erica Cornejo currently presides over the docket.


Superior Court in Pima County

110 W. Congress St., 9th Floor
Tucson, AZ 85701

Judge Renee Hampson
Ronald Overholt, Court Administrator
Dr. Michelle Christiansen, Deputy Administrator

Established year: 2004
Program Type: Post-Conviction


Program Description

In July 2004, Judge Nanette Warner of the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County assembled a committee of local criminal justice stakeholders to direct the development and implementation of a specialized court program for mentally ill offenders. Judge Warner noted the high rate at which petitions to revoke probation were being filed against community-supervised offenders with serious mental illnesses (SMI) and called for a program that could better meet the needs of these individuals to help them successfully complete probation. Since its inception in 2004, the Mental Health Court of Superior Court continues to utilize a post-conviction model. The program identifies those individuals who face mental health challenges and have also been sentenced to a term of probation. For those who apply and meet the criteria for acceptance, the program provides additional support and guidance in working toward continued treatment and successful completion of probation.


Tucson City Court

P.O. Box 27210
Tucson, AZ 85726-7210

Judge Susan Q. Shetter
Jennifer Maqsood, Manager
Nancy Fraire, Deputy Court Administrator

Established year: 2000
Program Type: Combined Deferred Prosecution and Post-Conviction


Program Description

The Tucson City Court Mental Health Division manages the oldest continuously operational mental health court in Arizona. Representatives from the prosecutor’s office public defender’s office, and the RBHA engaged in preliminary discussions about the possibility of creating a mental health court program after local pretrial services and jail representatives identified inefficient and costly practices in the system’s response to individuals with mental illness. Specifically, they recognized that multiple Rule 11 motions for an evaluation of competency were being filed for the same person at the same time in different courts. The mental health court emerged from these discussions in January of 2000 as a two-pronged response for reducing criminal justice costs associated with mentally ill offenders. First, it streamlined existing processes by establishing a centralized court docket with a specialized team to manage cases with mentally ill defendants. Second, the mental health court took additional steps to connect mentally ill offenders with the treatment and resources needed to help them become better functioning members of the community, to improve their quality of life, and, ultimately, to increase their periods of mental stability between crisis episodes. Judge Susan Q. Shetter currently presides.



Pinal County

Superior Court in Pinal County

P.O. Box 1748
Florence, AZ 85132

Judge Matthew Reed
Natalie Jones, Treatment Services Program Director
Amber Russell, Deputy Probation Officer

Program Type: Combined Deferred Prosecution and Post-Conviction


Program Description

The mission of the Mental Health Treatment Court (MHTC) of the Superior Court in Pinal County is to enhance public safety, reduce recidivism and facilitate long term stability of justice involved individuals with mental illnesses by providing effective supervision and treatment services. The mission is best accomplished through collaboration between the Mental Health Treatment Court Team, stakeholders, and the participant. The MHTC team consists of the Mental Health Court Judge, the County Attorney’s office, the Public Defender’s office, the treatment provider team, RBHA plan representatives, and adult probation. This collaborative effort promotes a positive environment for the participants to make positive changes throughout their probation term. Bi-weekly review hearings are a positive environment in which defendants are praised or sanctioned by the Court, depending on their behaviors. Participants support each other and are supported by their treatment teams and the MHTC team.



Yavapai County

Superior Court in Yavapai County

120 S. Cortez St., Rm. 401
Prescott, AZ 86303

Judge Deborah Phelan
Judge Michael McGill
Rolf Eckel, Court Administrator

Established year: 2013
Program Type: Post-Conviction


Program Description

The Mental Health Court of Yavapai County Superior Court started in October 2013. The purpose statement for the court is to hold all team members accountable to communicate and collaborate in order to support participants (seriously mentally ill probation clients) in achieving stability and crime free lives. Participants have a mental health diagnosis and are struggling with compliance concerns related to persistent medication non-compliance, new arrests related to medication non-compliance, lack of engagement in treatment and/or continued illegal substance use.



Yuma County

Superior Court in Yuma County

250 W. 2nd St.
Yuma, AZ 85364

Judge Pamela Walsma
Cathy Dryer, Mental Health Court Coordinator
Kathy Schaben, Court Administrator

Established year: 2013
Program Type: Combined Deferred Prosecution and Post-Conviction


Program Description

Yuma County Mental Health Court was established in April of 2013, and created to provide treatment options for misdemeanor and felony clients who are diagnosed with a persistent mental health disorder rather than sentencing to traditional probation. The Yuma County Mental Health Court Program is a court-supervised, comprehensive treatment program which includes regular court appearances before a designated Mental Health Court Judge. The mission of Yuma County Mental Health Court is to promote public safety, reduce jail time and repeat interaction with the criminal justice system, connect clients with needed mental health services and critical support, and improve the likelihood of ongoing success with treatment. Yuma County Mental Health Court consists of five phases. Phases are designed to build upon life skills, help clients identify and manage their mental illness/symptoms and foster stable and independent living. The program length is a minimum of eighteen months, with fast track eligibility to complete the program in one year. Each phase has judicial oversight, supervision, individual requirements, drug and alcohol testing and incentives and sanctions. Using a wraparound approach, the Yuma County Mental Health Court team meets frequently with clients to assess needs, provide positive feedback and problem solving, and accountability for non-compliance with treatment and probation conditions. Team members include a Mental Health Court Judge, Mental Health Court Coordinator, probation officer, surveillance officer, deputy county attorney, defense attorney, clinical advisor, treatment agencies, and liaisons from the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office and Yuma Police Department.