Friday, September 30, 2016

OP-ED: Leadership from the Bench

Judge Cameron Blau with his family. Provided. 
By Judge Cameron J. Blau

Having been responsible for approximately 150,000 cases in Campbell District Court over the last decade, I can still be surprised.

A little over a week ago, a young man showed me how true this statement was when he overdosed in my courtroom at approximately midway through my court docket.  This taking place two weeks after a young woman did the “heroin nod” in the hallway in the courthouse while waiting to check in with pretrial services for a felony offense related to the use of heroin.

“Nodding off” is a term commonly used by law enforcement when a person after having recently used heroin looks as though they are falling asleep or dozing off. This can and has occurred far too often in northern Kentucky, even as they drive.

I believe you have the right to know what is going on in our judicial system because transparency and information sharing are key ways for an informed community to know what resources are available to assist their loved ones.


As a quick note as to what a District Court Judge does, District Court handles well over 15,000 cases per year here in Campbell County which includes: Traffic, Misdemeanor, Felony, Juvenile, and Disability Cases (Elders at Risk of Abuse or Exploitation), City and County Ordinance Violations, Probate of Wills, Small Claims under $2,500, Civil Cases under $5,000, and Involuntary Commitments for Mental Health Issues, Alcohol, and Drug Abuse.

For over 10 years as Chief Assistant County Attorney prior to my appointment as your current District Court Judge, I have been fighting not only against the heroin epidemic, but trying to making positive changes in our community and this hasn’t changed in my new role.

I am an avid and outspoken advocate for early intervention at local civic organizations and our school systems, and inform our children of the stark look at the realities of heroin which includes the typical path of how someone becomes addicted, what the bleak life of an addict entails, and the almost inevitable end of an over dose leaving another hole in this family and our community.

In my former role, I made sure that our county used every resource available to help the addict and their family includes the use of “Casey’s Law” – a law that allows a family member or friend to compel someone into treatment.  “Casey’s Law” went into effect in 2004 after Charlotte Wethington realized that families needed additional resources to combat the loss her son, Casey, at the young age of 23 due to a heroin overdose on August 19, 2002.  Even to this day, we are one of only 20 of the 120 counties throughout the Commonwealth that actively uses “Casey’s Law”.

In my new role, not only do I preside over “Casey’s Law” cases, but I am now a special judge for Drug Court to allow me greater touch and control over those addicted to narcotics to help assist individuals in their recovery.  I have also worked with Judge Thomas, NorthKey Community Care, and our Detention Center to implement new and exciting changes to our STAR (Substance Treatment Alternatives to Recovery) Program to allow for Defendant’s to be rapidly evaluated (even in the Detention Center) and begin a treatment program while their case is pending.

I, along with a committee of individuals in our community, also recognized that our veterans are not immune to the heroin epidemic and our local veterans were becoming casualties of a war they weren’t expecting when they returned back to their civilian lives. Our committee developed and implemented a Veteran’s Diversion Program which has now morphed into a Veteran’s Court where we are able to use the resources of the VA to get them the critical intervention and make our veterans whole again.  After taking on my new role as District Judge, I quickly expanded this role to be appointed as a special judge for Veteran’s Court alongside Judge Stine to allow me to further monitor and assist our local veterans’ treatment programs and assist them in reintegrating back into our community as the healthy heroes that they are.

I am very proud of the changes I have made and continue to make, but these changes were only made possible because of the depth of my experience personally speaking with victims and family members of addicts, domestic violence, child and elder abuse, and those suffering mental illness over the last decade.

If there is one favor I can ask of you is for your patience.  My primary responsibility is to be on that bench to help our community I swore an oath to protect.

While one of the best parts of my prior job as Chief Assistant, currently being on the bench, and walking on this campaign trail is getting to meet and help so many people in our community, my judicial responsibilities are paramount so I ask for your patience if I haven’t had a chance to knock on your door yet.

On November 8, 2016, I am asking for your vote to allow me to continue to use this experience to bring about further positive changes in our system and our community here in Campbell County.  To learn more about the other changes I have implemented in our justice system or to contact me, please visit my website at www.blauforjudge.com or my facebook page at www.facebook.com/blauforjudge.

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