Felicia A. Scott

The City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court

Addiction is a serious public health issue which impacts millions of people across our country. According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, “approximately 21.5 million people age 12 or older in 2014 had a substance abuse disorder ( SUD) in the past year”1. The City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court see’s the impact of substance abuse disorders each day as it receives petitions from individuals and family members seeking the court’s assistance in finding treatment for themselves or their loved ones. The Marchman Act Court uses civil court proceedings to involuntarily order individuals to be assessed for substance abuse disorders and treatment if deemed necessary.

In 1970, the Florida Legislature enacted Chapter 397 governing the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Drug Dependents. The following year, it enacted Chapter 396 titled the Myers Act as the State’s “Comprehensive Alcoholism Prevention, Control, and Treatment Act”, modeled after the federal Hughes Act. Each of these laws governed different aspects of addiction by way of different Florida Administrative Codes ( or set of rules) promulgated by the State to fully implement the respective pieces of legislation.

In 1991, under the leadership of Judge Edward Rodgers ( Ret) , the City of Riviera Beach established a community civil drug court pilot project the first of its kind in the nation. Responding to a direct need to provide an alternative to incarceration for citizens battling the disease of addiction, the Community Drug Court Pilot Project which is also known as the Saturday Civil Drug Court was designed to reach citizens in need of court ordered services who were either unable to recognize their need for treatment and/or unable to obtain the treatment service( s) needed to begin their recovery. Today the City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug is governed by the Marchman Act and the fifteenth Judicial Circuit Administrative Order (AO No. 6.305-7/11) .2

In 1993, Representative Steven Wise of Jacksonville introduced legislation to combine chapters 396 and 397 of Florida Statutes into a single law that clearly spelled out legislative intent, licensure of service providers, client rights, voluntary and involuntary admissions, offender and inmate programs, service coordination, and children’s substance abuse services. The statute was named the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993 – generally referred to as the Marchman Act. The Act was named after Rev. Hal. S. Marchman, a tireless advocate for persons who suffered from alcoholism and drug abuse and who was recognized by the legislature for his contributions addressing the delivery of substance abuse services. The Marchman Act user reference guide defines “substance abuse impaired” to include a “condition involving the use of alcohol or any psychoactive or mood-altering substance in such a manner as to induce mental; emotional, or physical problems and cause socially dysfunctional behavior.”

The Marchman Act proceedings involve the respondent: adult or minor ( under 18 years of age) that is alleged to be substance abuse impaired and a petitioner: the person( s) alleging that the Respondent is substance abuse impaired. Depending on the whether the respondent is an adult or minor, different persons are able to file a petition with the court, seeking a court ordered involuntary assessment and/or court ordered treatment for the respondent. Typically, the Marchman Act process begins with the filing of a petition alleging that the respondent is substance abuse impaired with the Clerk of the Court at any of the three court locations in Palm Beach County, or at the City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court.

While petitioners can file a petition in any of the court locations across Palm Beach County, the City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court providers additional and encompassing case management services that facilitates timely and responsive assessments and treatment if necessary. When compared to the other court locations, the City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court provides direct client services related to outreach, case management, intervention and education to chemically dependent persons and coordination of continuing support services to families prior to and after treatment program and/or other services.

The City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court is unique, as the court con-siders petitions on Saturdays to accommodate family schedules and the necessity to work during the week. In addition, these proceedings consider petitions and the results of assessments on site on the same day, rather than holding separate proceedings on different dates. If the assessment finds that the respondent is in need of treatment, the court may order involuntary treatment on the same day as well and transport the respondent to treatment immediately. The case management com-ponent also provides financial assistance for indigent clients in a timely manner when compared to other court locations.

In 2014 , the Palm Beach County Criminal J ustice Commission presented the findings of an outcome evaluation which examined the effectiveness of the City of Rivier a Beach Civil Drug Court. The evaluation compared recidivism3 outcome for respondents between the City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court and the other court locations in Palm Beach County. The following chart shows that when compared to the other court locations, the City of Riviera Beach reported a 5.1% lower recidivism rate – or a relative reduction in recidivism of 21% .

Lastly, in addition to the Saturday morning court proceedings ( 9:00am to 12pm) , the City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court operates Monday through Friday, 8:30 am until 8:30 pm. Petitions are received daily until 5: 00 pm and evening hours ( 5: 00 pm – 8: 30 pm) are reserved for the service of court appearance summons. There is no cost associated with the filing of a petition. The City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court can be contacted at the following location:

Address: 2051 Dr Martin L uther King Jr Blvd #116

West Palm Beach, FL 33404

Telephone: ( 561) 840 – 4824


Website: http: //


4927, NSDU H Ser1 Hedden, Sarra L . et al., Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Q uality. ( 2015) . Behavioral health trends in the United States: Results from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health ( HHS Publication No. SMA 15- ies H-50) . Retrieved from

Felicia A. Scott was named Program Manager of the City of Riviera Beach Civil Drug Court (CDC) in 2001. Felicia graduated from the Tuskegee Institute with a BS in Sociology.