LOGAN — Just days before retiring, Judge Thomas Willmore was honored for his years of work, caring and helping drug addicts in the 1st District Court system. Tuesday afternoon, The Friends of Drug Court honored him with a service award in front of a packed courtroom.
Judge Willmore started Drug Court for Cache County in July 2000. At the time, it was one of the first in the state. The program gives people suffering from drug addictions treatment and counseling, while also requiring regular appearances before the judge, frequent and random drug testing, and monitoring by probation officers.
Public defender Shannon Demler praised Judge Willmore’s example. He said when you add up all of the participants in drug court, plus their families, he has helped more people in the community than anyone else.
“He stuck with it all of these years, while a lot of us faded in and out,” said Demler. “He never gave up. He yelled a lot, because that’s his personality, and it was only because he loved you, cared about you, and wanted you to do well.”
During the almost 20 years, 487 people have graduated from Drug Court. The program takes between one-and-a-half to three years, and boasts a recidivism rate of approximately 15 percent.
Two Drug Court graduates spoke during Tuesday’s program. They tearfully thanked Judge Willmore for saving their lives and giving them hope.
Brock Alder, Bear River Health Department Division Director, has helped with Drug Court since it began. He talked about Judge Willmore’s compassion, and being the “glue” that has kept the program going throughout the years.
“I’ve seen [Judge Willmore] want to come across the bench and wring somebody’s neck,” said Alder. “I know that some of you in Drug Court say how intimidating he is and I agree with that. But, the other thing I have seen, was him cry from the bench. This man is a good man. He has a lot of compassion and he really wants to see the success of people.”
Judge Willmore announced his retirement in September 2019. He will officially step off the bench February 16. Interviews for his replacement have been taking place during the past month. A successor will likely be announced in the upcoming weeks.