Judge mulls prisoner’s request for third attempt at Adult Drug Court

File photo Justin Leonard

NASHUA – Unless the lawyers in the case of incarcerated criminal offender Justin Leonard uncover “substantially different” information in the next month or so, there’s a good chance a judge will grant Leonard’s request to apply once again to the Adult Drug Court program.

Judge Jacalyn Colburn, who in April 2017 sentenced Leonard to three and a half to seven years in State Prison and terminated him from Drug Court, gave prosecutors until mid-August to review Leonard’s State Prison record and verify its contents to see if there’s any entries that could affect Colburn’s decision on whether to allow Leonard back into Drug Court.

Colburn therefore agreed to hold her decision in abeyance, pending the outcome of the prosecutors’ records review. She scheduled a hearing for 1:30 p.m. Aug. 20 on the matter.

“With the information I have right now, I’d be inclined to let Justin come back,” Colburn said. “The primary reason I would bring you back is that you’re the same person you were” when he was first accepted to Drug Court three years ago.

Colburn cited Leonard’s report that he hasn’t used drugs in two years, plus the fact that “the likelihood of you being rehabilitated while behind prison walls is slim to none,” she said.

Kelsey Klementowicz, the public defender representing Leonard, described her client as “much clearer now,” and feels that Drug Court would give him the help he needs.

“It would be huge for him to be able to take advantage of Drug Court program,” Klementowicz said.

Addressing the court briefly, Leonard told Colburn that he knows through his experience “what it takes” to succeed in Drug Court. He expressed gratitude to Colburn for “giving me multiple opportunities … (and) because you respected me.

“I stand here today asking for one last chance. I know the structure of Drug Court will help me. I need this, your honor; I know I can’t do it alone,” Leonard said.

Kyle Guilbeault, who is new to the county attorney’s office and prosecuted the case under the direction of Senior Assistant County Attorney Kent Smith, argued against Leonard’s motion for early prison release in order to reenter Drug Court.

Guilbeault noted the 21 disciplinary infractions, including six major ones, he said Leonard has accumulated in prison. He also said Leonard has not “taken advantage of mental health treatment and counseling sessions that were recommended by the prison.”

Colburn, after scheduling the August hearing, told Leonard she’s leaning toward granting his request because “I think (Drug Court) is the best for you.

“I don’t know if you’ll make it or not, but I’m leaning toward giving you another try.”

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.