Judge Stephen Marcus

Judge Rudolph A. Diaz and Judge Stephen A. Marcus

     Judge Rudolph (“Rudy”) Diaz and Judge Stephen Marcus have spent their adult lives in the legal arena, upholding not just the letter of the law, but its spirit. As judges, respectively, of the Rio Hondo and Los Angeles Municipal Courts, they have defined justice not as an act of socially sanctioned revenge or punishment, but rather as those actions which can make a healthier, saner civilization.

     Never satisfied to merely issue judgments, both judges’ interests lie in the communities that generate the crimes they review each day. And realizing that imprisoning a drug addict does not solve drug addiction and its many attendant problems, both judges became instrumental in bringing Drug Courts to Los Angeles for drug-related and drug-addicted offenders.

     To finish the Drug Court program, one must completely come off drugs. The program includes court monitoring, drug testing five times a week and counseling. The offender must test drug-free for six months before graduating. As related to Freedom by Judge Diaz, the cost of this program yearly per person is $1,200, compared to the $25,000 or more it costs to keep that same person in prison — where the drug problem not only remains unresolved but often becomes worse.

Judge Rudolph A. Diaz

     As described in literature published by the Rio Hondo Drug Court, “Drug Court philosophy recognizes the optimum time for intervention and treatment is when the defendant is most highly motivated, i.e., when in custody or facing a state prison sentence. By securing the defendant’s release from custody, and insisting on an immediate treatment plan ... the program can achieve a period of sobriety and stabilization from which the defendant can begin the long-term process of treatment for the self-destructive tendencies of drug abuse, and for improving the defendant’s self-esteem.”

     Judge Marcus described the concept to Freedom as “tough love” — the individual is compelled to undergo treatment in his own best interests. “The Drug Court judge must be part big brother, cheerleader and taskmaster,” he stated.

     Through their efforts, Judges Diaz and Marcus are improving the lives of those who come before them and of the community at large by removing addicts and returning rehabilitated and useful individuals — taking steps to facilitate the end of the drug problem, one victim at a time.


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