Meet Your GTDC Team: Nevada’s First Gambling Treatment Diversion Court
By the Hon. Cheryl Moss, Eighth Judicial District Court
Celebrating the GTDC’s Opening Session November 30, 2018 (from left to right): Dayvid Figler, Esq.; Alan Feldman, UNLV IGI Distinguished Fellow and MGM Resorts Intl; Carol O’Hare, Executive Director, Nevada Council on Problem Gambling; Judge Michael Villani, GTDC; Judge Cheryl Moss; Chief Judge Linda Bell; Judge Tierra Jones; Presiding Judge Bryce Duckworth. (Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Price, Eighth Judicial District Court public information officer).
On November 30, 2018, Nevada’s Gambling Treatment Diversion Court (GTDC) heard its first cases with the approval and support of Chief Judge Linda Bell. It is currently the only active gambling court in the U.S. The first gambling court originated in Amherst, New York, under the leadership of the late Judge Mark Farrell, but it is no longer active.
NRS 458A authorizes the GTDC to accept cases from criminal division judges who have determined that a defendant is eligible for gambling treatment diversion. With some exceptions, a person who commits a crime that was in “furtherance of a gambling addiction” could voluntarily request to participate in GTDC’s program. Upon successful completion in GTDC, the statute provides for dismissal.
While the GTDC operates in Southern Nevada, NRS 458A applies statewide. Therefore, Northern Nevada judges and rural judges have the authority to divert cases to the GTDC or create their own GTDC.
About the GTDC Team:
Judge Cheryl Moss: Presiding GTDC Judge
Judge Cheryl Moss is the first judge to preside over the GTDC. The GTDC judge accepts diversion cases transferred from the criminal division. She has had more than 20 years of experience and knowledge of problem gambling disorders. In 2001, Judge Moss was the first judge to institute problem gambling assessments in family law cases. She has presented locally and nationally on problem gambling and the courts. She oversees the participants’ course of treatment, abstinence, support group attendance and restitution.
Prior to acceptance to GTDC, the criminal judge must issue an order finding that the defendant meets the eligibility criteria pursuant to NRS 458A. The GTDC judge will typically hear cases every two weeks.
The purpose of a GTDC hearing is to confirm that the participant is attending treatment for problem gambling, attending a support group, is complying with drug testing if applicable, is submitting their financial information, is complying with location monitoring and is making restitution.
The GTDC judge may lessen the frequency of court attendance based on the participant’s progress, may allow the participant to appear by video conference and may lift other specific requirements such as drug testing.
The GTDC judge strives to ensure that each participant in the GTDC Program participates in a meaningful manner and that treatment and court participation will have a positive impact on the participant’s recovery from problem gambling. If the participant completes the program, the case is transferred back to the criminal judge for final disposition.
Stefanie Hui: GTDC Court Coordinator
Stefanie Hui is the GTDC specialty court coordinator. The court coordinator is responsible for both the court program and participant care. She provides program development, policies and procedures, and keeps the GTDC team informed.
In regard to participant care, the coordinator provides case management, compliance checks, and communication between the participants and the court in between hearings.
Hui also provides staffing reports and compilation of documentation to the rest of the GTDC team for preparation of a court hearing. Because GTDC is a specialty treatment court, the coordinator usually has a clinical background as well as an administrative one to provide clinical recommendations and perspectives to the team.
Referrals to the appropriate treatment provider for each participant is made by the coordinator based on treatment and level of care needs of the participant. The coordinator then communicates with participant treatment providers consistently for updates on the participants’ treatment and progress within the GTDC program.
Jennifer Fraser: GTDC Public Defender
The public defender is the attorney for each participant in the GTDC. Representation includes advocating for each client during the team meetings as well as making representations on behalf of the client during court.
Counsel is available for each participant to answer questions they may have about their criminal case as well as the status of their GTDC case.
Additionally, the public defender can provide legal information and/or background to the court to explain each participant’s involvement in the criminal justice system and how he/she was referred and ultimately accepted to GTDC.
Ravi Bawa: GTDC Deputy District Attorney
The deputy district attorney is a member of the GTDC team and shares the team’s goal of recovery for its participants. However, the District Attorney’s Office has a duty to do what can be done to ensure public safety from financial crimes that stem from problem gambling.
To the extent possible under the statutory scheme, taking measures to ensure compliance with program requirements, including attempts to make victims financially whole, is of paramount importance to the District Attorney’s Office.
Ultimately, successful recovery by participants can reduce recidivism and do some part toward protecting society. The District Attorney’s Office is part of the GTDC team, and they also provide good checks and balances to represent a victim’s interests.
Carol O’Hare, Nevada Council on Problem Gambling: GTDC Community Provider
The Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, the community partner for the GTDC, serves as an information and support resource to the court team and participants. The council is a statewide private nonprofit whose mission is awareness, education and advocacy for treatment of problem gambling.
In her role, O’Hare keeps the court apprised of current information on gambling disorders and resources for help in the community. By participating in the GTDC team, the council can assist in identifying appropriate and accessible recovery support services matched to the needs of the participants.
O’Hare’s presence in the courtroom is reassuring to participants that the court is truly engaged and supportive of their recovery journey. The council also participates in the court’s ongoing efforts to educate judges and the legal community about the process and benefits of GTDC for the citizens of our county.
The GTDC may be contacted at GTDCinfo@clarkcountycourts.us.