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Mental Health Issues & the New York State Courts 2019: Substance Use Disorders

Speaker(s): Aisha S. Greene, Esq., Carol Fisler, Esq., Christine Edwards, Esq., Dennis A. Reilly, Hillary V. Kunins, MD, MPH, Hon. Joseph E. Gubbay, Hon. Marcia P. Hirsch, Joyce B. Korn, Esq., Karen Otis, NCC, LMHC, MA, Kevin Wadalavage, LMHC, CASAC 2, Lipi Roy, MD, MPH, DABAM, Michael Rempel, Steve Hanson, Tracie M. Gardner, Valerie Raine, Esq.
Recorded on: May. 17, 2019
PLI Program #: 249919

For the past year, Valerie Raine has served as a consultant in criminal justice to the Center for Court Innovation, the Federal Judiciary Center, and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Previously, she served as the Statewide Drug Court Coordinator for the NYS Unified Court System from 2014 – 2017 when she retired. In that capacity, she assisted in the development and operation of drug treatment courts throughout New York. From 2000 to 2014, she served as director of drug treatment court projects at the Center for Court Innovation, where she provided training and technical assistance to drug courts across the country. From 1996 to 2000, she served as project director of the Brooklyn Treatment Court, where she helped develop and manage New York City's first drug treatment court. She is a past president of the New York Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals and is a former member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Ms. Raine created and taught a course on problem-solving justice at Fordham Law School, has served as faculty for the National Drug Court Institute, and presented on drug treatment courts at numerous conferences for more than 20 years.  From 1982 – 1996, she worked at the Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division in Kings County, where she was appointed attorney-in-charge in 1994. Ms. Raine is a graduate of Hunter College (1977) and the University of Virginia School of Law (1982).

Aisha Greene, Esq. recently returned to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office as the Chief of the Rehabilitation Programs and Restorative Services Bureau. Her Bureau includes the Diversion and Alternative Sentencing Unit and Crime Victims Advocate Program. Prior to rejoining the District Attorney’s Office in Queens, Aisha served in a similar role at the Bronx Count District Attorney’s Office as the Chief of the Alternatives to Incarceration Bureau. Additionally, Aisha was the Director of Brooklyn Justice Initiatives (BJI), a project of the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), providing direct services to court involved individuals. While at CCI, Aisha also served as Associate Director of Research-Practice Strategies at the Center for Court Innovation. In this role, she helped coordinate the Center’s work on the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, an initiative to reduce incarceration and address racial disparities in the justice system. Before joining the Center, Aisha was the principal court attorney to a New York State Supreme Court Justice, working in the Integrated Domestic Violence (IDV) court and a trial part, and a prosecutor with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office (Domestic Violence and Narcotic Trials, including specialized court parts). Aisha holds a bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and earned her law degree from Columbia Law School. She volunteers for several organizations and provides educational support and mentorship to students and young professionals.

Christine Edwards is responsible for assisting Deputy Chief Administrative Judge Edwina G. Mendelson in the implementation and oversight of statewide justice initiatives. In this capacity, Christine provides training and technical assistance to New York State’s Human Trafficking Intervention Courts and Mental Health Courts and works on other special projects.

Prior to joining the Division of Policy and Planning, Christine served for 12 years as the Principal Court Attorney to the Honorable Jo Ann Ferdinand, who presided over the Brooklyn Treatment Court from 1996 until her retirement in 2016. From 2002-2004, Christine worked as an Appellate Court Attorney in the Appellate Division, Second Department. From 1995 to 2000, she was an Assistant District Attorney in the Kings County District Attorney’s Office assigned to the Major Narcotics Investigations Unit. She is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and Harvard University.

Dennis A. Reilly Esq. is the Statewide Drug Court Coordinator for the New York Unified Court System’s Office of Policy and Planning. Previously, Mr. Reilly served as the Director of Operations for Treatment Court Programs at the Center for Court Innovation and Project Director at the National Drug Court Institute. Mr. Reilly has served as Director of the Brooklyn Treatment Court and the Problem-Solving Courts Coordinator for the Kings Supreme Court. Prior to joining the Unified Court System Mr. Reilly worked for the Connecticut Judicial Branch as a Special Deputy Sheriff, Trial Court Clerk, Pretrial Services Officer, Supervision Officer, and Court Planner, and was a founding team member of Connecticut’s first three drug courts. Mr. Reilly is a Reclaiming Futures National Fellow, has served as an expert consultant for OJJDP, BJA and SAMHSA, and has provided technical assistance to numerous adult, juvenile, veterans and tribal treatment courts. Mr. Reilly is a graduate of the University of Connecticut’s School of Administration and Management, the University of Denver College of Law and the University of Amsterdam School for Executive Development in International Relations.

Dr. Hillary Kunins is the Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner of Mental Hygiene at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). In this role, she oversees the DOHMH’s major strategic initiatives to improve the mental health and behavioral health of all New Yorkers. Previously, Dr. Kunins served as Assistant Commissioner for the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use at DOHMH where, since 2012, she has led the DOHMH’s efforts to promote public health approaches to reducing the health and social consequences of drug and alcohol use in NYC, including preventing opioid overdose and prescription opioid misuse, and binge and excessive alcohol use; integrating best practices in substance use care into health care systems; and strengthening the continuum of services to address the needs of New Yorkers with substance use disorders. Dr. Kunins serves as the DOHMH lead for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 60 million dollar citywide opioid initiative, HealingNYC.

As a general internist and addiction medicine physician, before joining DOHMH, Dr. Kunins worked in the Bronx for 16 years providing primary and addiction-related care to patients in both community health centers and in substance use disorder treatment programs. Dr. Kunins served as Medical Director of the Hub 2 Methadone Maintenance Program, in the Division of Substance Abuse at Einstein (2000-2003); Founder and Director of Project GROW – HIV prevention for women with substance use disorders (2003-2012) and Director of the Primary Care/Social Internal Medicine Residency Program at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine (2007-2012). She has been a Principal or Co-Investigator of foundation and federal grants related to buprenorphine treatment in primary care, disparities in substance use service utilization, and medical education/training to promote quality care for vulnerable populations. Dr. Kunins received her MD and MPH from Columbia University and her MS in Clinical Research from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Dr. Kunins is a Clinical Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and Family & Social Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Fellow of American College of Physicians, and Fellow of American Society of Addiction Medicine.

Dr. Lipi Roy is an internal medicine physician board certified in addiction medicine as well as clinical assistant professor at the NYU Department of Population Health. As the former Chief of Addiction Medicine for NYC jails including Rikers Island, Dr. Roy oversaw substance use treatment and recovery services for the nation’s second-largest jail. Previously, she was a primary care doctor to Boston's vulnerable homeless population, among whom the leading cause of death was drug overdose. She currently treats patients at an addiction treatment center in New York City. Dr. Roy also served as an attending physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She completed her medical and master’s in public health degrees at Tulane University, followed by internal medicine training at Duke University Medical Center. Dr. Roy is a strong advocate for public service. In addition to caring for incarcerated and homeless men and women, she has served the underserved in Nicaragua and India, as well as New Orleans residents affected by Hurricane Katrina during medical school. Dr. Roy has also provided medical relief to earthquake victims in Haiti, and volunteered in the medical tent at the Boston Marathon. She currently volunteers with the New York City Medical Reserve Corps.

Dr. Roy is a sought-after speaker whose mission is to educate and empower the public to make healthy decisions through nutrition, mindfulness and addiction education. She is currently a Forbes contributor and has appeared on CNN, Dr. Oz and Charlie Rose; she has also published in the Huffington Post and STAT and has been featured in the The New York Times, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Cooking Light and Dr. Roy shares her expertise about health and wellness on her websites,, Spices for Life MD and her YouTube Channel. She can be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Joyce Korn is an attorney with The Legal Aid Society, the oldest and largest non-profit legal services provider for the indigent in New York City.  She has over 30 years experience in criminal defense practice.  For the past 15 years she has been The Legal Aid Society’s representative in Brooklyn Treatment Court, a problem-solving court, where she advocates for clients to be diverted out of the criminal justice system and receive necessary treatment for their underlying needs as an alternative to incarceration.  She frequently conducts trainings and lectures on Judicial Diversion under Article 216 of the NYS Criminal Procedure Law and the role of defense attorneys in problem-solving courts.

Joyce received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland in 1979 and  a Juris Doctor degree from the National Law Center at George Washington University in 1984. 

Judge Joseph E. Gubbay was appointed to the Criminal Court in 1999.  He helped establish the Misdemeanor Brooklyn Treatment Court, and presided from 2004-2013 in The Screening Treatment and Enhancement Part, a court which offers drug and mental health treatment to individuals charged with non-violent felonies.  During 2012, he was assigned the additional responsibility to preside over the first Kings County Adolescent Diversion Program, an initiative of New York State’s Chief Judge, to offer appropriate services to 16 and 17 year olds charged with crimes in an effort to reform negative behavior and achieve a non-criminal disposition.  Currently, he is the presiding Judge of Brooklyn Treatment Court.  In 2016, J. Gubbay assumed the additional responsibility for presiding over the Common Justice calendar in Kings County, a unique program which utilizes the principles of restorative justice to engage adolescents charged with violent crime to understand the roots of violence and its alternatives.  The ultimate goal is for the parties to meet and come to an understanding as to why the violence was committed and to forge a path of mutual understanding and perhaps reconciliation.

Karen Otis, associate director with the Center’s department of treatment court programs, delivers expert assistance to state and local jurisdictions in the areas of adult drug courts, family drug courts, veterans treatment courts, mental health courts, and more. Karen also designs and delivers remote trainings via webinar and videoconference, and she develops content for, the national drug court online learning system. Karen is a licensed mental health counselor, with over a decade of experience in family treatment court. She holds a masters’ degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a master’s degree in mental health counseling from the City College of New York.

Kevin Wadalavage is a New York State Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor and nationally certified Master Addiction Counselor who has worked in the substance abuse field since 1981 as a street worker, Counselor, Program Director, trainer and administrator. He has trained on chemical dependency-related topics to professionals and the community for over 30 years and supervised two New York City outpatient addiction treatment programs. He has belonged to a half dozen statewide addiction advisory workgroups and has been an item development expert for the Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor exam.  He continues to serve on the Clinical Advisory Panel of the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.  He has also participated in several practice/research collaborations funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.  In 2013, he received the Addiction Treatment Professional of the Year award by the New York State Addiction Treatment Provider Association.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Queens College, CUNY and a Master of Arts degree in Counseling from New York University.

Steve Hanson, M.S. Ed., is the Associate Commissioner for Courts and Criminal Justice for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. He is responsible for relationships with the various criminal justice entities including Drug Courts, State and local corrections, probation and parole. Previously he had served as the Associate Commissioner of Treatment for OASAS with responsibilities for the oversight of state operated treatment programs, adolescent services, criminal justice and Recovery services.

Steve has been with OASAS since April 2001 when he was appointed as the Director at our John L. Norris Addiction Treatment Center in Rochester. In 2007, he was named Director of the Bureau of Addiction Treatment Centers, and in 2009 he was named Director of Treatment Services.

Steve has over 30 years of experience in the field as a treatment provider, educator and consultant. His ability to train criminal justice practitioners on drug abuse and treatment has been recognized both nationally and internationally. He has been a faculty member of the National Drug Court Institute/National Association of Drug Court Professionals for 16 years.

As Legal Action Center Vice President of Policy Advocacy, Tracie Gardner spearheads major initiatives and fosters strategic partnerships that support LAC’s mission. From 2015-2017, Tracie served as the Assistant Secretary of Health for New York State, where she oversaw the state’s addiction, mental health and developmental disabilities agencies. Tracie has worked almost 30 years in the health and social services policy arena as a policy advocate, trainer and lobbyist. Tracie received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College.

Carol Fisler is a consultant to courts, states, and local governments on mental health and criminal justice collaborations. She was the director of Mental Health Court Programs at the Center for Court Innovation, where she oversaw initiatives that address mental illness and the courts, which included the planning and implementation of the Brooklyn Mental Health Court (the first specialized court for offenders with mental illness in New York) and training and technical assistance to more than 50 mental health court planning teams in New York State and around the country. She also directed the planning and implementation of a juvenile justice/mental health initiative for young people with mental health disorders charged with delinquency and has overseen youth development and alternative-to-detention programs in Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Ms. Fisler speaks frequently at national and regional conferences and has extensive public and private sector legal and managerial experience, serving as the president of a start-up welfare-to-work staffing company, deputy general counsel of the New York City Housing Authority, assistant commissioner for legal affairs of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell. Ms. Fisler graduated from Harvard University and Stanford Law School.

Hon. Marcia P. Hirsch is the Presiding Judge of the Queens Drug Treatment Court, the DWI Treatment Court, the Mental Health Court, the Veterans Court and the Drug Diversion Court.  She was appointed to the New York Court of Claims in March 2005 and was assigned to Queens Supreme Court, Criminal Term.  She presided over hearings and trials before she was assigned to the therapeutic courts in October 2005.  Judge Hirsch has lectured extensively on therapeutic justice, trauma-informed courts, and procedural justice.  She is a past president of the New York Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals.  She joined the faculty of the National Judicial College in 2015.

Judge Hirsch is a graduate of Union College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law.  She served for nine years on the Rockville Centre School Board and also was a member of her community’s Drug & Alcohol Task Force.  Prior to taking the bench, Judge Hirsch was the General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner at the New York State Division of Housing & Community Renewal.  Before that, she was in private practice for many years. 

Michael Rempel is director of jail reform at the Center for Court Innovation, overseeing strategic planning and research projects related to reducing incarceration in New York City. He previously served for 16 years as the Center’s research director, building and overseeing a 20-person department that conducts studies on a wide range of justice reform topics. Recently, he served as principal investigator (PI) on a national study of prosecutor-led diversion programs; PI on a multi-method study of “what works” in school safety; PI on an analysis of decision-making at each stage of criminal case processing in New York City (NYC); PI on a study of the drivers of case delay in NYC’s felony cases; and co-PI on NIJ’s Evaluation of Second Chance Act Adult Reentry Courts. He also recently served as staff to the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform (a.k.a. the Lippman Commission). His past work includes leading multiple studies on specialized adult drug courts (serving, for example, as co-PI on NIJ’s Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation and PI on the first drug court evaluation conducted in Mexico). He also led or participated in a series of NIJ-funded studies of court responses in cases of intimate partner violence, including separate randomized controlled trials of batterer programs in the Bronx, NY and judicial monitoring in Rochester, NY. He frequently presents on evidence-based strategies with criminal offenders, generally, and best practices when using science-based risk assessment tools, specifically. He has long been interested in bridging the gap between the worlds of research and policy and has frequently consulted on evidence-based technical assistance initiatives in New York, nationally, and internationally (the latter in partnership with the Organization of American States).