Local lawyer hired to run Dare drug court aimed at rehab

By on April 8, 2019

Emily Urch has experience in the field.

Thirty years ago, the first drug court was started in Florida as an alternative approach for adults charged with drug-related crimes. Today, there are drug courts in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

“For the last six years we’ve had an informal drug court in Dare County,” 1st District Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jerry Tillett said.

The court, he said, has used the approach of rehabilitation for repeat offenders with serious substance-use issues. Often, it comes at the request of the district attorney and defense counsel.

Now, this model of jurisprudence has been formalized in Dare County.

Called a Recovery Court, the approach is described by the North Carolina Judicial Branch as offering individualized treatment plans including counseling, supervision, drug testing, sanctions, and incentives for meeting recovery goals.

Authorized funding for the Recovery Court was detailed in a recent Memorandum of Agreement between the County, Tillett and the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

The agreement projected costs for the program are $27,331 for fiscal year 2019 and $83,499 for 2020. These costs include the salary for a Recovery Court Coordinator.

Recovery court coordinators serve as an integral part of the model. Coordinators manage the program, organize treatment protocols and liaison with outside professionals.

“Emily Urch has been hired as the coordinator,” Tillett said. Urch, a Dare County attorney and graduate of North Carolina Central School of Law, previously worked in the social services field assisting clients requiring addiction treatment.

Her legal career includes representing the State of North Carolina as a prosecuting attorney before going into private practice with the firm Grimsley, Urch and Yacobi.

One of the driving forces behind the creation of the local recovery court was Dare County Commissioner Wally Overman.

“I was asked to look into starting this type of court by Ervin Bateman,” Overman said.

Bateman, now a Dare County commissioner, made the request as a member of the Savings Lives Task Force, which Overman co-chairs. The task force focuses on prevention of substance use disorder and increasing access to treatment for Dare County residents.

“Long-term substance use effects everyone; it’s the most devastating effect on businesses here on the Outer Banks,” said Bateman.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the use of illicit substances takes a toll on the nation in the amount of $740 billion annually due to drug related crime, health care and lost work productivity.

Responding to his hopes for the recovery court, Ervin Bateman said “my hope is to save one life at a time.”

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Donna Davis

So grateful that Ervin Bateman and Wallly Overman were able to get this program established in Dare County.


This is a great approach at helping combat the growing drug related offenses to treat the individual involved. Jail time and fines don’t help. Often this backfires since it’s the abusers family who suffer and yet the individual doesn’t get the help they need to make lasting changes..Hopefully this will be a source of help and hope to those involved. I commend Dare County for this step in the process to try to make a difference in the lives of the offenders.


I agree that substance abuse rehabilitation is important for the recovery process. Jail time will only “dry out” the individual who has addiction issues, not solving the problem. Treatment through education, drug screening, and offering the individual a better quality of life with recovery brings a better outcome. I have worked with these individuals who have experienced both jail and rehabilitation. Those with opportunities for rehabilitation processes have yielded the best success, improving their quality of life, and then helping others to do the same. If you have walked that trail, you have a better understanding of what it is… Read more »