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Posted on Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

Ann Arbor lands $95K in state grant funding to continue Sobriety Court services

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor's 15th District Court is getting a $95,000 boost thanks to two grants that will help fund the Sobriety Court now overseen by Judge Joe Burke.


Judge Joe Burke

Ryan J. Stanton |

That includes a $70,000 Michigan Drug Court Program grant from the State Court Administrative Office and a $25,000 Office of Highway Safety Planning grant through the Michigan State Police.

The Sobriety Court was established in 2004 by retired Judge Julie Creal, whom Burke replaced earlier this year following an appointment by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Court Administrator Keith Zeisloft said the goals of the team-based selective Sobriety Court program are to proactively enhance community safety by assisting persons who need and would benefit from intensive court supervision with emphasis on rehabilitation.

The services used to accomplish those goals include outpatient and inpatient drug and alcohol treatment based on participant need, mental health services provided by Washtenaw Community Health Organization Project Outreach, drug and alcohol testing by Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton's Office of Community Corrections, as well as education services, life skills, employment assistance and other support services.

With the cooperation of district court judges throughout Washtenaw County, the Sobriety Court, located in Ann Arbor, accepts case referrals from all district courts in the county.

Sobriety Court team members include the Ann Arbor Police Department, the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety, local substance abuse treatment nonprofit organization Dawn Farm Inc., Model Cities Legal Services Inc., the city attorney's office and the county prosecutor's office.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

When Bob West was busted for drunken driving,I was extremely surprised how lame the treatment he received for his punishment for the crime.Any average citizen would have received a much more stern punishment, maybe because the city attorneys office is part of the SOBREITY COURT TEAM..Even the usually condescending city attorney STEVEN POSTEMA just gave BOB WEST a slap on the wrist.MR POSTEMA, where was your tough on crime resolve in this instance? I guess hat its the old standard of pick and choose as to who to prosecute in the city...most recently well publuicized "BONGS & THONGS".When on earth are we going to get some fairness from the city attorneys office.

Basic Bob

Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 10:13 a.m.

Many times when we read about drunk driving, someone has been killed. This was not the case here. He also didn't try to hide behind a dumpster. It is my opinion that we was treated just as others in the system are. Mr. Postema made the correct decision to reassign Mr. West and not fire him. Fortunately they had that flexibility for a senior attorney who has done his job well.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 1:28 a.m.

Drunk drivers are no longer the prominent threat most of them are at least trying to drive well. It's the texting cell phone generation that's killing and injuring more people than drunk drivers ever did. There's just more easy money in drunk driving for the enforcement and judicial community. Want to save lives? Outlaw cell phones in vehicles.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

And some people keep saying this country is broke, but government grants are flourishing to anybody and everybody and the feds keep printing. And now this government doesn't really care because they know that there is no way possible to ever have a balanced budget again. There is about $3B less income to the treasury, not including defense.

Basic Bob

Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 2:03 a.m.

Incarceration and repeated arrest is not cheaper.

Chase Ingersoll

Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 1 a.m.

Judge Burke gets high marks from everyone I know through Sobriety Court is an excellent self filtering system where those who want to stop drinking are provided the tools and guidance/discipline while they develop themselves beyond the need of constant oversight. At every AA meeting I attend there are always 1 or more attendees with a sheet and a sheepish look. Yes, they do actually show up, sit through the meetings and find someone to sign their sheets. It's kind of interesting in a way, because the sheets ask for a name and phone number, which kind of defeats the Anonymity of AA, but I've never seen anyone refuse to sign.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 12:43 a.m.

Can we assume that Robert West was subjected to the exact same petty compliance requirements that are inflicted on every other Ann Arbor citizen including the petty drug or alcohol offenders? I doubt that is public information, though I'll admit that I have not researched it.

The Secret Team

Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

City Prosecutor West let the deputy know who he was and the deputy asked his supervisor by radio not to take West to jail, and West was taken, per the permission granted the deputy by his boss, to a U-M Public Safety office where he was administered a Breathalyzer and be allowed to be picked up by his wife. This information was on the YouTube video posted by that it received under the Freeedom of Information Act. West was not charged in the 15th District Court of Ann Arbor as his arrest occured in Pittsfield Township. The disciplinary action summary taken by City Attorney Stephen Postema was released and posted on te Internet. Postema inposed a two-week unpaid suspension on West. An embarrassing situation all around.

The Secret Team

Tue, Sep 25, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

One of the key figures in implementing the 15th District Court Sobriety Court program had been Ann Arbor City Prosecutor Robert West, who works under the supervision City Attorney Stephen Postema. Ironically, West made news when he was arrested by a Sheriff's deputy on suspicion of drunken driving in Pittsfield Township. He was immediately removed from the Sobriety Court program and later suspended without pay from his $94,000 per annum position by Postema. West's arrest video was posted to YouTube and colected over 4,000 hits. West pled to a charge of operating while impaired and received probation. City Prosecutor West's arrest underscored the fact that drinking and driving permeates our society at the most unlikely levels and programs such as the Sobriety Court address the sequelae of intoxication in order to promote prevention.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Mr. West wasn't arrested in Pittsfield Township. What other facts you have wrong here is anyone's guess. He's paid dearly for his lapse in judgment so give it a rest already.