Judge's legacy likely to live on

By Anthony Antoine | aantoine@wcia.com

Published 10/31 2013 01:19PM

Updated 10/31 2013 01:25PM

DANVILLE -- A drug court program, started by Judge Michael Clary, has a record of success. Thursday, Judge Clary makes his final ruling. He's retiring after 15 years as a circuit judge. WCIA-3's Anthony Antoine has more.

His vision will live on. Thursday will be a bittersweet day for the judge, but he's leaving behind a program which will change lives for years to come.

Judge Michael Clary has made this walk, put on this robe and sat in this chair for 15 years. This is his last time. He's made many tough decisions. During those years, he saw a need for change.

"It was just the same type of people over and over and the reason they kept getting in trouble was because of drug use. They were addicted. So, I thought, after awhile, it's something we need to do."

He started drug court. The weekly program helped addicts. Its goal was to keep them clean and help them transition back into society.

"For those that can follow the rules, I think it's helped to change a lot of their lives to a very great extent for the better."

"It's made me a much better person. I've been able to get back in touch with my child and my granddaughter and do the right thing."

"Every little detail of my life, the whole aspect of it has progressed in ways I didn't think were possible anymore. Ways of thinking, attitude, will power."

After they complete four phases of treatment, the judge hopes the next time he sees them isn't inside the courtroom.

"I've been invited to weddings for people that were involved. I've attended weddings for drug court probationers."

Although he will no longer be there, he wants everyone to remember one thing.

"da Vinci said a person's reach must always exceed their grasp and I've tried to stick with that."

Family treatment and mental health court also started because of Judge Clary. Both programs grew out of the success of drug court.

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