Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush will lead a national group tasked with addressing America’s opioid crisis, the Supreme Court announced Friday.
“While much attention has deservedly been focused on this epidemic’s health impact, we cannot ignore the significant legal issues it also raises,” Rush said. “It has become a recurring theme throughout our nation that this crisis is crippling our communities and overwhelming our courts.”
The work plan for the judicial branch task force includes these strategies:
• Convening representatives from state and federal government and key national organizations to share existing strategies and identify unmet needs;
• Creating partnerships with entities addressing the impact of opioids on children with specific emphasis on foster care, assisting state courts in developing opioid task forces, and working with existing state task forces to make recommendations for local response efforts;
• Developing guiding principles that state courts can use for successful collaboration among treatment providers, criminal justice systems and child welfare agencies; and
• Creating a checklist of state legislation, policy and court rules that aid or inhibit response efforts.
The task force was established by resolution of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators. Rush will co-chair the task force with Tennessee State Court Administrator Deborah Taylor Tate. Other task force members include Iowa Chief Justice Mark Cady, New Mexico Chief Justice Judith Nakamura, Vermont Chief Justice Paul Reiber, Michael Buenger of Ohio, Nancy Dixon of Kansas, and Corey Steel of Nebraska. An initial meeting of the task force members will take place Nov. 13 in Washington, D.C.
Financial support for the study group comes from the State Justice Institute. The National Center for State Courts will provide additional funding and staffing support.