“Changing lives, one day at a time...”

Health Care Court, a program within the 12th Judicial Circuit’s Mental Health Court Project, is designed for those individuals who are charged with a qualifying offense in Manatee County and who suffer from a mental illness which likely led to the criminal charge.

Health Care Court & Staff Members

Assigned Judge The Honorable Lon Arend
Judge’s Judicial Assistant Nancy Bigness  (941) 749-3687
Program Director Alfred James  (941) 749-3670
Assistant Director June Mallett  (941) 749-3600 x7070
Health Care Court Counselor Kate Bozym-Craig  (941) 749-3600 x7928
Health Care Court Case Manager Deena Smith  (941) 749-3600 x1790
Lab Technicians Casey Dodge and Tina Duell  (941) 749-3670
Medical Staff Dr. Tran  (941) 749-3670
Case Coordinator Deena Smith  (941) 749-3670
Public Defender Terry Drake
Probation Officer Felony - Department of Corrections Felicia Brown and Diane Adams  (941) 751-7611

Other Phone Numbers

Health Care Court (Main Office)  (941) 749-3670  (941) 749-3694
Urinalysis Drop Line  (941) 749-3666

Mission Statement

Consistent with the intent of the Florida Legislature, as set forth in section 394.47892 of the Florida Statutes, the Twelfth Judicial Circuit, with the assistance of community partners, has established a Mental Health Care Court which “processes [criminal defendants] in such a manner as to appropriately address the severity of the identified mental illness through treatment services tailored to the individual needs of the participant.”

The specific goals of Health Care Court are to improve public safety, improve the quality of life of the participants, pay restitution to victims and reduce recidivism all while decreasing the amount of incarceration.  Participants receive professional, accessible, quality treatment and support services at little or no cost while remaining accountable to the Court.

Health Care Court Overview

Health Care Court is designed for those individuals who are charged with a qualifying offense and who suffer from a mental illness which likely led to the criminal charge.  The individual must be able to meaningfully engage in outpatient treatment (including but not limited to: therapy, case management, drug testing).   Participants receive psychiatric services from a contracted medical practitioner as well as one on one therapy, group therapy, case management and assistance with issues as appropriate/possible (for ex. assisting an individual in obtaining housing or a job or in enrolling in government services).  

Court Appearances

At each court appearance, the Judge will receive a progress report from the Health Care Court staff regarding the participant’s participation in the program.  The participant will be encouraged to remain compliant throughout the program, completing all requirements until you reach graduation.  Successful completion of the program will result in a graduation ceremony and a certificate of completion from the program.  If you entered the program in pursuant to a plea and/or as a condition of your probation, then you would have satisfactorily completed that portion of your requirements. Failure to complete the treatment plan or an unsuccessful discharge from the program will result in prosecution on the pending charges or violation of probation. 

Program Rules

Court Attendance: Court is held the third Thursday of each month immediately following Drug Court in Courtroom 2A of the Manatee County Judicial Center, 1051 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205. You may be asked to attend court more than monthly if your progress in the program is not stable.

Courtroom Rules: You must be on time for your court hearing. Failure to appear when your name is called may result in a bench warrant being issued. Clothing must be appropriate. Food, beverages, and gum chewing are forbidden.  Cell phones and any other electronic devices must be turned off or set on vibrate upon entering the courtroom.

Jail: The court can sentence you to jail for non-compliance of the program rules and regulations. We offer therapeutic resolutions for you when you are not complaint with program requirements, however at times a jail sanction can be imposed by the judge.

Probation: After signing your Health Care Court contract, you are under supervised probation through the Florida Department of Corrections. You must make the required contacts with your assigned probation officer and adhere to all your probationary terms, conditions, and financial obligations.  If you plan to leave town for either business or pleasure, you must obtain permission from the Health Care Court and your probation officer. 

Public Defender’s Office:  If you don’t have a private attorney, you may be assigned an assistant public defender.

Counseling: You will be provided with counseling information and will be assigned a counselor. You will be required to meet with the counselor for individual therapy and a biopsychosocial assessment.

Groups: You must attend all designated group sessions recommended by your Health Care Court Staff.  Group sign-up sheets are available before group begins. Be sure to sign in for group.  You must be in the designated area when group begins and in the door before the facilitator closes the group doors. If you are late, you will not be allowed in the group and will not get credit.  Food and beverages are not allowed in the group room and you are not allowed to leave the group for any reason until dismissed by the facilitator.

Case Management: Case Management services are available by appointment.

Confidentiality: Your mental health records will be kept in the strictest of confidence.  However, information regarding your mental and physical health will be shared by and between the Court and the staff of HCC (including outside counselors) for purposes of case management and treatment considerations as well as for the maintenance of statistics.  Personal information about you will not be disclosed to those outside of Health Care Court unless you sign An Authorization to Release Information form. Please note that your participation in Health Care Court is memorialized in public records.  Additionally, please note that in cases of suspected child or elder abuse/neglect or if a client appears to be at imminent risk to harm self or others, counseling professionals are required by law to report this to the proper authorities to ensure safety of client and others.

Health Care Court Office Rules

Parking: There are no designated parking spots, parking is available on the street or in the parking garage, there is a fee in some of these areas.

Tardiness/Absences: All participants must be on time.  Being late for any treatment activity will not be tolerated and you may be counted as a no show.  If you are running late, please call the office to inform staff. In the event that you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment, please call at least 24 hours in advance. All absences are unexcused unless pre-approved by your counselor, case manager, program director, and/or Judge. If you fail to keep scheduled counseling, group, or case management sessions, you may be sanctioned by the Judge. However, we do understand that emergencies arise, such as illness and family emergencies.

Behavior: You must act and speak appropriately in the Health Care Court office and on the building premises.  Inappropriate or disrespectful behavior will not be tolerated and will result in sanctions and possible termination from the program.

Courtesy Phone: If no one is in the front office to assist you, the courtesy phone can be used to contact the Health Care Court staff.

Holidays: You will be notified in advance if the office is closed during holidays.  Postings will be listed around the office and the drop line will notify of office closures. On holidays, all scheduled appointments or groups held in the Health Care Court office will be excused. In the event that the office is closed on your scheduled drop day, you are required to provide a drop the following day.

Visitors: You may not bring visitors beyond the waiting area.  Exceptions include for family counseling sessions.  Please arrange for childcare when having group or individual sessions.

Electronics: Electronic devices must be turned off during group and counseling sessions.

Food and Beverages: No food or drinks are permitted inside the office.

Attire for Office & Court Attendance

All individuals entering the courtroom shall be clean, neat, and dressed appropriately. Clothing must be in good taste and not disruptive to the judicial process.

  • If worn, undershirts and tank tops must be worn with another "cover up" shirt.  (Shoulders, back, chest, and midriff must be covered).

  • All pants must be worn at the waist. No sagging or low riding pants.

  • Inappropriate head coverings such as bandanas, hoodies, scarves, sweatbands, caps, or hair nets are not permitted.

  • Clothing that advertises substances (drugs, alcohol, tobacco products), that is offensive, or that displays inappropriate language (sex, profanity, racial or ethnic slurs, gang related attire, etc.) may not be worn.

  • Tattoos that display drugs, sex, alcohol, or tobacco products must be covered at all times.

  • Clothing that is intentionally torn in inappropriate places (breast, stomach, buttocks) is not permitted.

  • For security reasons, accessories such as chains, spikes, and oversized jewelry are not permitted.

Drugs Alchohol Medications and Supplements

You must inform Health Care Court staff of any medications you are taking. Any prescribed medications, supplements, vitamins, over-the-counter cold and headache remedies, etc., must be brought in to be copied and verified by a staff member. Failure to provide a valid prescription for a medication that you test positive for will result in a positive drop. 

Illegal drugs: You may not take any illegal drugs (cocaine, crack, marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, crystal meth, non-prescribed opiates or benzodiazepines, etc.).

Alcohol: The use of alcohol is not permitted while in the program.  Drinking alcoholic beverages will violate your supervision.  Cough syrups, cooking wine, or any other products containing alcohol are not permitted. It is your responsibility to be aware of the ingredients in anything that you put into your body, including medications, mouthwash, food, etc

If you are prescribed any controlled substances due to a medical condition and need to continue taking them while in the program, you must get a letter from your Physician confirming that he/she is aware that you are in Health Care Court and that the medication is medically necessary.

Psychiatric Medications:  You must see the Resident Physician once for a psychiatric evaluation upon admission into the program. If you are taking any psychotropic medications for mental health reasons or if the Resident Physician prescribes you any psychotropic medications, you can continue to receive medication management services with the Resident Physician while in the program. However, if you already have a psychiatrist, you may continue to see your own psychiatrist.

Over-the-Counter Medication: If you must take certain over-the-counter remedies, please inform your counselor and urinalyses technician, as some over-the counter products are banned from the program.

Food & Supplements: All vitamins, minerals, herbal supplements, energy supplements, body building supplements, and similar products must be brought in for approval by the urinalysis technician before you take them.  Some of these will not be approved, (i.e. poppy seeds) and all other supplements containing “creatine”.


Drops: Random drug screens for all Health Care Court clients unless otherwise advised. You must call the drop line between 5am and 12pm Monday through Friday at which time you will be advised whether you will be screened that day.  If you are to be screened that day, you will need to report to the office by 4:30pm.

In some circumstances and with prior approval, drops can be scheduled.  If the office is closed on your scheduled drop day, you must drop on the following day. Positive tests may result in increased frequency of drops. Clients placed on daily or increased drops must check in with the Case Manager every day they are in the office to ensure compliance.

Missed Drops: Missed drops are considered positive drops and are not excused.

Dilute Drops:  Dilute drops will likely be considered positive drops.  Drinking an excessive amount of fluids is one technique that is used to manipulate test results, as well as caffeine intake prior to the test. Creatine is sometimes used to mask dilute drops.  Drops with a high creatinine level are considered invalid.  To avoid this, limit fluid intake to 16oz of fluid with some food 2 hours before you drop.

Falsification:  Attempts to pass your drug test by using masking agents (cleansing products, utilizing another person’s urine, etc.) will result in significant sanctions or termination from the program.

Observation: A staff member will accompany you into the restroom to observe your drop.  You must follow all staff member instructions to ensure the drop is properly observed and collected. You have the option of utilizing the UR Code liquid which will allow you to provide an unmonitored urine sample 30 minutes after drinking it.

Contested Results:  Positive drops are automatically retested by the onsite lab. If a participant would like to have a third party lab test the sample, this will be possible only if the participant has provided an adequate original sample (30ml).

Failed Attempts:  If you leave after 5 failed attempts, it is considered a positive drop.

Check Your Cup:  At every drop, please check your cup for your name and the correct date.

Insufficient Specimens:  If you can’t provide a sufficient urine sample for initial testing, the cup will be discarded.  If you do not provide at least 30ml, then you will not be able to contest the results found by the onsite lab.

Verbal Honesty:  You should report all recent drug or alcohol use at the time of your drop.  If you have not already informed the Health Care Court staff, please tell the person that is supervising your drop.  It will not be considered verbal honesty if you report using after you drop.  

Health Care Court Groups

Mandatory Health Care Court group sessions are held in the office.  You are required to attend one mandatory group session per week that is for Health Care Court clients only in addition to regular group attendance based upon your phase.  There are a variety of group sessions available including those concentrating on improved mental health and substance abuse recovery. Certain group sessions have attendance requirements and homework; therefore, participants must participate in all of the sessions and complete the homework for that particular group in order to receive the credit for attendance.  A group schedule is included in this handbook. Please discuss with your HCC Counselor what groups may be of interest to you. Please note you can be requested an increase of group sessions if HCC counselor recommends.

Individual Sessions

All HCC participants are required to be actively involved in individual counseling on a regular basis. You will receive counseling services free-of-charge.  Or you may elect to receive counseling from another community agency or a private therapist of your choice at your own expense. You are required to attend all scheduled appointments with your counselor. In the event that you are unable to keep your appointment, it is your responsibility to call in advance to notify your counselor and reschedule.

Resident Physician Services

A Resident Physician specializing in mental health is available by appointment on Mondays from 8:00am-5pm Drug Court/Health Care Court office.  You must see the Resident Physician once for a psychiatric evaluation upon admission into the program. The Resident Physician can discuss any mental health concerns and prescribe psychiatric medications. If you already have a psychiatrist, you may continue to see your own psychiatrist for medication management but you will be required to sign a release of information so your treatment can be discussed and meet with Resident Physician for Medication Evaluation/Maintenance as regularly as seeing your psychiatrist. If you fail to comply with the guidelines of the Resident Physician such as arriving late or missing an appointment, you will be sanctioned.  There is no charge to see the Resident Physician.


Grievances regarding Mental Health Court or its staff shall be initiated using the Grievance Form.

Case Management

Health Care Court has a dedicated Case Manager to help you to find the resources you need in order to be successful while you are in Health Care Court and after you leave. You are required to see your Health Care Court Case Manager at least 1 time per month.  This may increase based upon your needs during your time in Health Care Court.

Health Care Court Counselor

In addition to your Health Care Court Case Manager you will also be assigned a counselor that you will meet with on a regular basis. Your counselor will be your primary contact for Health Care Court. Your counselor will also review your progress in the program and inform you about phasing up and graduation requirements.

If you have any additional questions, please ask your assigned Counselor or any other available Health Care Court staff.

Special Announcements

Unexpected closures of the Treatment Court Office and Special Announcements, will be on the recorded Drop Line Message and will be updated daily.  The drop line number is (941) 749-3666.  YOU MUST CALL EVERYDAY BY 12:00 P.M.

Phases / Graduation

As Part of Health Care Court, we will monitor your progress through phases.  Based on your performance, you will phase through the program and graduate after completion of the four phases.  There are two tracks of phases:  12 Month (Felony) and 6 Month (Misdemeanor). As you phase through, you will be rewarded for your progress and on your graduation day you will be presented with your completion certificate and gift.  Prior to any phase advancement a checklist with the Case Coordinator must be completed.

Phase I (30 Days)
  • Orientation
  • Meet RESIDENT PHYSICIAN and follow up as needed
  • Drug screens
  • Attend Court as scheduled
  • 3 group sessions weekly (one to include HCC)
  • 1 individual session weekly
  • Medication compliance
  • Begin to pay fines/Court Costs
  • 30 days clean screens to phase up
  • 14 days clean if still in phase 1 after initial 30 days
  • Meet with Case Manager for Phase Advancement
Phase II (60 Days) - acknowledgment for phasing up
  • Attend court as scheduled
  • Attend 2 groups per week (one to include HCC)
  • Meet with Case Manager monthly/as needed

  • Drug screens
  • Weekly/Bi weekly meeting with counselor as deemed appropriate
  • Follow up with RESIDENT PHYSICIAN as needed
  • Complete any requirements set by Case Manager or counselor pertaining to treatment
  • Medication compliance
  • 30 days clean screens to phase up
  • Continue to Pay fines/Fees
  • Updated Treatment Plan
  • Meet with Case Manager for Phase Advancement
Phase III (180 Days) - acknowledgment for phasing up
  • Attend Court as scheduled
  • Attend 1 groups per week (HCC)
  • Bi weekly sessions with counselor or as deemed appropriate
  • Meet with Case Manager monthly/as needed
  • Drug screens
  • Complete Paying fines/Fees
  • Medication complaint
  • Meet with RESIDENT PHYSICIAN as needed
  • Begin to prepare plan for discharge
  • Budget plan
  • Meet with Case Manager for Phase Advancement
Phase IV (90 Days) - acknowledgment for phasing up
  • Attend Court as Scheduled
  • Attend HCC Group Weekly
  • Monthly/bi weekly sessions with counselor
  • Meet with Case Manager Monthly/as needed
  • Drug screens
  • Medication compliance
  • Complete discharge plan
  • Have counseling session set from outside provider (if Needed)
  • Meet with RESIDENT PHYSICIAN as needed
  • Connect with outside provider for medication as needed
  • 90 days clean to graduate
  • Write for plan after HCC (Share with HCC)
  • Discharge Plan submitted by Therapist
  • Meet with Case Manager for Phase Advancement
  • Set graduation date


  • Director: Alfred James
  • Case Coordinator: Deena Smith
  • Address:
    1051 Manatee Avenue West
    Bradenton, Florida 34205
  • Phone: (941) 749-3670
  • Fax: (941) 749-3694

Office Hours

  • M - F, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm

Urinalysis Drop Hours

  • M - F, 7:00 am to 4:30 pm

Related Links

Manatee HHC Client Handbook