Program Operations

Program Operations


Judge Seth Norman

Criminal Court Division IV Judge

Judge Seth Norman

“There is something new in the courts of America. They have been taking a new look at how the criminal justice system handles drug offenders. With the press of drug cases on judicial dockets, judges have sought alternative means to expedite cases through the system. Although expedited case-management strategies and specialized drug courts helped process cases faster and allowed judges more time to deal with serious felony cases, drug offenders continued to reoffend and reappear before the judiciary, often in the same courtroom. From these beginnings, the new paradigm of dedicated drug treatment courts arose (Terry, 1999, p.1).”Quoted from W. Clinton Terry, III, Associate Professor in the Criminal Justice Program at Florida International University

 More About Judge Seth Norman, Criminal Court Division IV Judge

Judge Seth Norman (retired) Judge of Division IV Criminal Court and served as Presiding Judge of the 20th Judicial District for the years 1998 and 1999. Elected to the bench in 1990, Judge Norman was re-elected without opposition in 1998, 2006, and again in 2014. He is a Korean War Veteran, having served 5 years in the U.S. Air Force. Judge Norman received his J.D. Degree from the Nashville School of Law in 1962. He practiced law in Nashville for 28 years in the law office of Jack Norman, Sr., and served as a member of the General Assembly, the State Democratic Executive Committee, and as a Delegate to the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Judge Norman is the Founder and former Presiding Judge of the Davidson County Drug Court, and the Founder and former Chairman of the Nashville Drug Court Support Foundation, Inc.

In 2006, he was appointed by the US Secretary of Education as a member of the Advisory Committee for Safe and Drug-Free Schools in Washington DC. Judge Norman is the recipient of several awards related to addiction and recovery including 2009 – Tennessee Medical Association “Community Service Award”; 2008 – National Association of Drug Court Professionals “Media Award”; 2004 – NAMI “Ambassador of Hope Award”; 2003 – Tennessee Association of Drug Court Professionals “Pioneer of Tennessee Drug Courts”; and 2001 – Alcohol and Drug Council of Middle Tennessee “Paul Mulloy, Jr. Award”.

Judge Norman has worked with and assisted the National Judicial College, the Tennessee Bar Journal, the Nashville Bar Journal, and TADDAS in writing articles on substance abuse disorder treatment and criminal justice issues. Judge Norman and DC4 have been highlighted in various editions of the above-listed publications as well as the 2004 President’s Drug Control Strategy, Newsweek Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Tennessean, Nashville Scene, and other local periodicals.

In addition to the above-mentioned contributions, Judge Norman has served on the Governor’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and served as Drug Court Judge on the 13th Judicial District Regional Drug Court Team, and also served as the Drug Court Judge for the 9th Judicial District, Morgan County Residential Recovery Court.


The Davidson County Drug Court Residential Program (DC4) is a long-term residential drug and alcohol treatment facility, which operates under the direct supervision of the Division IV Criminal Court in the 20th Judicial District of Tennessee (Nashville/Davidson County). To our knowledge, DC4 was one of the first self-operated residential drug court programs established in this country.

Since the program was established in 1997, over 1,000 offenders have successfully completed the program. The recidivism rate for persons successfully completing the program is approximately 25%. The retention rate since program inception is approximately 65%. On average, participants had more than 8 previous drug charges and had been previously incarcerated for two to four years. By using this approach since May of 1997, the Davidson County Drug Court program has accomplished the following: diverted approximately 1,500 people from the current criminal justice process, maintained a negative drug test rate of 97%, provided the community with over 50,000 community service hours annually, maintained a 100% employment rate for graduates, and numerous drug-free babies have been born. All of this has been accomplished at a cost of $48.00 per day as opposed to $65.00 day in prison, representing a saving in excess of 30%.

DC4 currently has the capacity to serve 171 adult male and female non-violent felony offenders for both inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment. The daily average census is 75 in residential and 25 aftercare. Demographics of current residents indicate that the average participant began using AOD at the age of 14, and 58% identified cannabis as the first substance they abused. At the time of entry into DC4, approximately 68% of residents identified some form of cocaine as their primary drug of choice (crack cocaine 47.7%, other forms of cocaine 20%). 98% were residents of Davidson County. The average age upon entry to DC4 was 31 years old, with approximately 68% male and 32% female, 61.7% were African American, 37.8% were Caucasian and 0.05% were either Asian or Hispanic. The average household income was 0 to $10,000, and there was no stable job history. The majority were unemployed. Our estimate is that applicants had on average, been convicted of 5 prior felonies and had been incarcerated for 4 years.


Offenders may be referred to the program by the public defender’s office, a private defense attorney, the Community Corrections Program, other drug court programs, or upon successful completion of an in-jail treatment program. The Drug Court Assessment Team assesses all eligible referrals in order to determine whether or not placement in the Residential Program is appropriate. If placement is deemed appropriate, a recommendation is made to the court to admit the offender into the appointed program.

All offenders entering the program are supervised by the Davidson County Community Corrections Program (DCCCP), which is administered by the State Trial Courts and funded by the Tennessee Department of Corrections. Each offender receives a substance use dependency, educational, employment, and medical assessment. An individualized treatment plan is developed for each offender based upon the above assessments. The program strives to assist the offender in overcoming his/her addiction, eliminating criminal behavior, developing life skills, obtaining vocational training, completing basic education, and attending to other specific needs.


DC4 currently employs five full-time counselors to provide individualized treatment to residents. A Treatment Coordinator oversees the counseling staff. Three of the counselors serve residents in Phase I and II, a case manager  serves the phase III residents and there is one aftercare counselor. Treatment services are generally delivered in the following phases:

Phase descriptions:

Phase I: Assessment and Orientation, is a minimum of 20 weeks in length. During this phase, the residents complete orientation and any other assessments needed to develop the treatment plan. Residents stay at the residential facility 24 hours, 7 days a week during this phase. Residents are drug tested on a random basis.

Phase II: Stabilization and Rehabilitation, is a minimum of 16 weeks in length. During this phase, residents work on treatment plans, attend group therapy and individual counseling.  Services are delivered through didactic approaches such as psycho-education, addictions treatment, medication group, relapse prevention, group therapy, and coping strategies. Cognitive therapy and motivational interviewing are integrated with a 12-step based recovery program. Our therapeutic community incorporates vocational training, educational/GED training, life skills, cognitive-behavioral interventions, and community service work. Each resident performs a minimum of 200 hours of community service work while in the residential program. During this phase, residents are slowly integrated into the community by attending  outside support meetings of AA/NA/CA. Residents receive no less than 2 random drug screens per month during this phase.

Phase III: Re-entry and Employment, is a minimum of 12 weeks in length. During this phase, residents develop an initial aftercare plan with the counselor, begin employment or vocational training and may continue educational pursuits. During this phase residents begin the integration process back into the community. A program fee is charged to residents to include them in the financial responsibility to offset the cost of the program. Drug screens during this phase are very important for accountability. Residents receive no less than 3 random drug screens per month during this phase.

Aftercare: Transition, is a minimum of 9 months. Upon successful completion of the three-phase program, residents are graduated to aftercare. Graduates are placed in transitional housing away from the facility and return to DC4 weekly for group therapy individual therapy and receive two drug tests per week.

*One major element in each phase of this treatment program consistent in each component is bi-weekly contact with the Drug Court Judge to assess their program progress.