Recent News

December kept Santa’s elves very busy in the Northeastern Judicial Circuit. Participants of the Hall and Dawson County accountability courts, along with their families, were treated to a Christmas Party hosted by the local non-profit organization Friends of Recovery. Each year, Friends of Recovery puts together a large scale event including dinner, musical entertainment, door prize giveaways, pictures with Santa, and presents for children. On December 17, the Dawson County Friends of Recovery chapter partnered with New Life Baptist Church to serve a home-cooked meal to over 100 participants and their families. Santa made his arrival and provided each child with a stuffed animal donated by local board members. On December 19, the Hall County Friends of Recovery chapter had their turn to serve close to 800 people at First Baptist Church in Gainesville. The judges and program team members donned an apron and served a full meal provided by local restaurants to each participant and their family members. Thanks to donations from our local Kiwanis chapter, over 300 children were able to unwrap a present from Santa that evening and a family picture was taken to preserve the memory.

For many program participants, the holiday season spent during their time in an accountability court is the first sober holiday they have had in many years. Watching participants and their families enjoy their time together is truly heartwarming. These events bring everyone together and provide an opportunity for lasting memories to be created. The accountability courts of Hall and Dawson Counties are very fortunate to have the support of Friends of Recovery. Along with the annual Christmas parties, Friends of Recovery sponsors pro-social events for accountability court participants as well as community events which provide awareness surrounding recovery. Additionally, Friends of Recovery provides financial assistance to program participants who face hardships through interest free loans. Program participants are provided the opportunity to rebuild productive and meaningful lives while enriching our community as a whole through involvement in these events. All of this is made possible through the generous support of local businesses and individuals who recognize the value of supporting recovery efforts in our community and teaching recovering individuals and their families how to spend healthy, sober time together.

The Christmas parties of 2019 were a huge success and we are excited to see what 2020 has in store!

The Northeastern Judicial Circuit is proud to announce the honoring of Ms. Heather Herrington, Assistant Director of Treatment Services. Ms. Herrington was honored with an Outstanding Achievement award by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Herrington was recognized for her commitment to her profession, her dedication to clinical excellence, and for the positive impact she has on the lives of participants in the program. The NEJC’s Director of Treatment Services, Jessi Emmett said, “I am so happy to see (Heather) recognized for her hard work…she exemplifies the standards of our profession and is an influential mentor. She dedicates herself to helping those struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues and is a wonderful example to other counselors.” With an extensive background in both professional and addiction counseling, Ms. Herrington has served the NEJC since 2006 in various roles, most recently taking the position of Assistant Director in 2019. When asked about being recognized Ms. Herrington said, “It was really an unexpected honor.” Herrington said she takes her role as a provider very seriously and that it is important to her that the clients participating in the program be receiving the highest quality of service from its clinicians. The NEJC is excited to announce her latest achievement and is proud to call her part of their team.

The Northeastern Judicial Circuit’s very own, Jason Bennett, was recently honored by the Council of Accountability Court Judges during their 2019 training conference. Mr. Bennett is the recipient of the Star Award, having been only one of eight individuals in the State to receive such a prestigious award. Mr. Bennett was selected as an award winner for his humble dedication and work as a H.E.L.P Program Coordinator. The NEJC’s Chief Superior Court Judge, Kathlene F. Gosselin, who presides over the program, said, “Jason has true skills in treatment…I have come to rely on him for his judgment (in the program). His star shines brightly on all of us.” Chris van Rossem, Assistant Public Defender, says of Mr. Bennett, “His dedication to helping not only our team, but also all of our participants, to reach the highest levels of potential is unmatched.” Both Gosselin and van Rossem agree that more times than not participants of the program name him as their favorite part of the process. Upon receiving the Star Award Mr. Bennett said, “I think this award is a bigger demonstration of the team work that incorporates the H.E.L.P. Program. I am very humbled to have received this award.” The NEJC would like to thank Jason for having a humble spirit and for his dedication to the H.E.L.P program.

Forrester Passes Torch to Stephenson

The Northeastern Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judges and the State Judges of Hall County announce the retirement of their long-time Court Administrator, Reggie Forrester. Mr. Forrester has been a dedicated servant of the courts for the last 14 years, as well as a 30 plus year employee of Hall County, holding many positions of great responsibility during his tenure. When reflecting on the service of Mr. Forrester, Chief Superior Court Judge, Kathlene F. Gosselin said, “ (Reggie) steered us through many changes in court procedures, hard financial times, and led us during a time of unprecedented growth. He will be missed by all of us.” In addition to Gosselin, Superior Court Judge Jason J. Deal aptly said, “Reggie has been a mentor and confidant, both professional and personally. His guidance, experience, and insight has been invaluable.” Mr. Forrester’s departure comes as bittersweet to all those that knew and worked with him. While his co-workers are happy to see him enjoy his retirement years, they are also very sad to see him go. Mr. Forrester leaves behind a great legacy.

As of December 2, 2019, Mr. Jason Stephenson will take the reins as the new Court Administrator. For more than four years, Mr. Stephenson has held the position of staff attorney to Chief Judge Gosselin. Stephenson graduated from Georgia State Law School and before that worked in various church related positions, as well as directed a non-profit camp and conference center outside of Atlanta. Jason and his wife Gina, along with their two boys, live in Gainesville. The couple have convinced both of their parents to move to Hall County, showing their deep commitment to the community. When speaking of the transition, Judge Gosselin stated, “Jason will bring the same sense of service to the courts that Reggie has always displayed. His energy, wisdom, and knowledge of the court system will benefit all of us who work within that system.”