By Frank Lewis
Friends and supporters gathered together Saturday morning at The Loft’s in Portsmouth to rally behind Alan Lemons, magistrate of the Scioto County Probate and Juvenile Court, in his efforts to be elected judge of that court. Longtime Probate and Juvenile Judge James Kirsch announced last year he will retire at the end of this year following a long bout with illnesses that left him spending much of his time in the hospital or recuperating at home.
“This wasn’t something that Judge Kirsch planned. It wasn’t anything I planned,” Lemons said. “But when he became ill about 18 months ago, it started a series of hospitalizations, and that just put me where I had a lot more cases to handle than I would have ordinarily had. It has given me a lot of good experience.”
Lemons said when he first arrived at Probate and Juvenile Court, Kirsch did most of the more difficult cases, but lately more of those high profile probate and juvenile cases have come to him.
“I have done a whole bunch of cases and I think I have gained a lot of experience and insight,” Lemons said.
Lemons said one of the things he has done is attempted to educate himself about addiction, since a large percentage of cases such as custody cases, involve addiction. He said he attended The Counseling Center’s “Loved One’s” group sessions
“I began to understand a little bit about addiction and what you should and shouldn’t do with addicts,” Lemons said.
In the process of his trying to establish a Family Reunification Through Recovery Court, he said he wanted to talk to different groups with people who could help. One of those was the faith-based recovery program, Celebrate Recovery, at Cornerstone United Methodist Church in Portsmouth. He said while he was there, something “very touching” happened. At that service a man whose children Lemons had taken from him on two different occasions because of addiction approached him.
“I really didn’t know what to expect when I ran into him,” Lemons said. “He gave me a hug and said, since that day, that second time he had been in my court, he has been sober and he actually got up and preached and it was very moving.”
One of the people who has had a profound effect on his life is Amy Lambert who is bringing “City Invasion” to this area.
“She has rented the stadium. She is a recovering addict and she has a very powerful program, and I talked to her about addiction,” Lemons said. “I learned a lot from her too.
Lemons said he has also learned from being a member of the Scioto County Health Coalition. He has also met many people whose lives have been effected by addiction, especially those who have lost loved ones to drug abuse.
“We handle all of those cases where the babies are born addicted, and I listened to that testimony and gained a lot of experience just by listening to that testimony,” Lemons said.
He said the last time he received information about that issue he was told the number of babies born addicted and with the need of pharmacological intervention with their withdrawal has doubled.
“That’s very frightening, obviously,” Lemons said. “So I think this Family Reunification Through Recovery Court is a great thing. I have been working on this a long time. The judge gave me the authority and the permission to work on it just a few months ago.”
Lemons said it is his hope to be elected Probate and Juvenile Judge to continue the program.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 252, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.