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YOUNGSTOWN Judge's son is jailed for 24 hours



Published: Thu, May 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Offenders are tested twice weekly for drugs and are subject to random tests.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Eric D. Douglas' first day in county drug court resulted in a contempt citation and 24 hours in jail.

Last Wednesday, Douglas, a son of Municipal Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr., pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, a felony.

Judge Jack Durkin, who presides over drug court, withheld sentencing and ordered Douglas, 33, of East Midlothian Boulevard, to begin outpatient treatment at the Neil Kennedy Recovery Center.

If Douglas successfully completes the drug court program, which includes staying drug free, the cocaine conviction will be dismissed. The program, which lasts one to two years, permits substance abusers to avoid jail while seeking rehabilitation.

Judge Durkin, who presides over drug court every Wednesday morning, had Mahoning County deputy sheriffs arrest Douglas in court Wednesday and transport him to the jail to serve one day on the contempt conviction. Douglas was expected to be released this afternoon.

Linda S. Martin, an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor assigned to drug court, said confidentiality guidelines prevent revealing what rule Douglas violated.

Rules of program

Martin said participants in phase one of the program must attend three treatment sessions and three 12-step meetings each week. They must also be tested twice each week for drugs and call a number each day to see if they have been picked for a random drug test, she said.

If they fail to call and it turns out they had been randomly selected to be tested that day, the missed call is considered testing positive for drugs, she said.

Violating any of the program's rules can result in contempt of court, Martin said. Judge Durkin is very strict with the program, she said.

He could not be reached Wednesday.

Douglas was able to bypass a preliminary hearing last week in municipal court and proceed directly to the common pleas drug court. Judge Durkin said then that no special favors were extended.

Judge Douglas has said the drug charges against his son are personal and declined to comment. Last fall, the judge began a drug court program in municipal court.

meade@vindy.com




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