Omaha’s Adult Drug Court Coordinator Supervises Final Graduation

Omaha’s Adult Drug Court Coordinator Supervises Final Graduation

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Longtime Drug Court coordinator, Paul Yakel, supervised his final commencement ceremony for the Douglas County District Court Adult Drug Court on December 11, 2019.

While Yakel’s final ceremony involved five participants, the program has celebrated graduations for over 2,000 participants throughout its 22-year history.  This most recent graduation is the court’s 107th commencement ceremony.

The District Court Adult Drug Court has proven to be an innovative, cost-effective program to assist substance-abusing individuals in making life-changing differences for themselves, their families, and the community under Yakel’s direction. He has also been fundamental in raising the profile of all drug and problem-solving courts throughout Nebraska.

“Paul has grown our staff and developed a huge network of providers in Omaha,” noted District Court Judge Gary Randall. “He will be greatly missed by not only the drug court judges but by all problem-solving court administrators and staff throughout the Judicial Branch; he is truly a servant of the people and a kind individual.”

Randall, along with fellow district court judges Thomas Otepka, Leigh Ann Retelsdorf, and Greg Schatz, serve as presiding judges for the Douglas County District Court Adult Drug Court. The Court is Nebraska’s first drug court. It was established in April 1997 to focus on non-violent, substance-abusing felony offenders who would benefit from a comprehensive, judicially supervised program of substance-abuse treatment, urinalysis monitoring, case management, and self-improvement.

Omaha’s first drug court judge, James Murphy, mentored Yakel when he was working as a treatment coordinator in Region 6 Behavioral Health of Omaha. 

Teresa Bunjer has been hired to replace Yakel. She began her position as Drug Court Coordinator in early December.