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A Drug Court Graduation Like No Other

Posted on Jun 5, 2020 in Featured News, News & Reports


Fifth Circuit Deputy Chief Judge Michael K. Soong stands with 10 graduates at the 35th Kauai Drug Court graduation ceremony on 05/29/2020 at the Kauai Courthouse. All stand six feet apart and are wearing masks.

Fifth Circuit Deputy Chief Judge Michael K. Soong (left) and 10 Kauai Drug Court graduates celebrate their achievements with a safe, socially distanced group photo on the front steps of the Pu`uhonua Kaulike Courthouse Building.

It was a Drug Court graduation like no other. Fifth Circuit Deputy Chief Judge Michael K. Soong presided over Kauai’s first Drug Court graduation ceremony to take place during the COVID-19 pandemic. The courtroom celebration on May 29 was attended by only the graduates, prosecutor, and court staff to ensure public health and safety. Proper social distancing was observed, and masks were required.

Dignitaries who have traditionally participated in the celebrations were also forced to change their plans due to the pandemic, but found innovative ways to be there. One of those was Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami, who sent a heartfelt and inspiring congratulatory message by video, which was played for the 11 members of the Kauai Drug Court’s 35th graduating class.

“As always, we thank our partner, the Friends of the Kauai Drug Court Program – a Kauai United Way agency,” said Fifth Circuit Chief Court Administrator David Lam.

“With the ongoing support and commitment of their team, we are able to help people return to a healthy way of life with opportunities for contributing to a better future for our community.”

Since its inception in 2003, the Kauai Drug Court has graduated 239 clients. The program works to address substance addiction through treatment, while providing taxpayers with a productive alternative to incarceration.