Jan 27—MARIETTA — Eleven people graduated from Cobb County’s DUI Court during the program’s 45th graduation ceremony this week.

Among the graduates was a unique success story.

A graduate named Jacob was sworn in to the Georgia Bar by Judge Eric Brewton, the DUI Court Judge for the State Court of Cobb County, in what Brewton called, “one of the greatest honors we’ve had in the history of DUI Court. “

According to Jacob, he knew that he was going to ask to be sworn in by Judge Brewton before he even passed the bar exam.

Normally, people who pass the bar are sworn in by a judge belonging to the Superior Court, but an exception was made for Jacob.

“I am honored that the Superior Court would allow me to swear you in,” Brewton said as he stood face to face with Jacob in the court room.

Jacob was born and raised in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and spent some time in Wyoming as well. He has lived in Atlanta for almost 20 years now.

As a kid, he dreamed of becoming a lawyer, and now that dream is being realized.

Jacob is a graduate of the Georgia State College of Law in the Class of 2016.

He was convicted of two DUI’s in less than four months before starting DUI Court, and now, 15 months later, he has graduated and will begin to practice in family law after doing some internships at family law firms in Marietta. He expressed interest in venturing into criminal law as well.

“I don’t know what I expected from this program,” Jacob said. “What I got was a second chance.”

He knew it was time for a change after the second DUI, so when he was offered the opportunity to forego jail time and participate in DUI Court, he accepted.

“My wife was at the end of her rope with me,” Jacob said. “I had used every bit of faith in me that she had, I had done a lot of damage to my relationship with my kids, and I wanted to stay with them to make up for some of the harm I had done and heal some of the damage to those relationships.

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Going to jail would have only lessened Jacob’s chances at mending relationships with his family, he said.

“I didn’t want to lose them. I didn’t see how I could just disappear and come back and have anything left.”

It may be a surprise to some, but DUI Court wasn’t an ever-gloomy affair.

While reminiscing on his favorite memory of DUI Court, Jacob told the MDJ about a time when he was sitting with his wife, Jen, in a family group session and something was walking around inside of the vents in the ceiling. That something ended up being a member of the racoon family that had found its way inside the courthouse, Jacob realized as he looked up and saw little raccoon paws through the vent.

“The laughter and horror that ensued when I pointed out what was going on was just kind of fun,” he said. “There was a lot of laughter throughout the program.”

Jacob’s advice to those who have been convicted of DUI’s and are contemplating participating in the DUI Court program is simple: “If you have the opportunity, take it.”

According to Jacob, a man who knows firsthand what the program can do for people, it offers growth, tools and ways to meet your ultimate potential and make dreams come true.

Judge Brewton, a man adored by every graduate who stood at the podium to express their gratitude, was visibly excited for this batch of graduates, especially Jacob.

“This is why we do DUI Court,” he said. “To help people live the lives they were created to live.”

DUI Court is a voluntary program for people who have been convicted for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs twice in 10 years, three times overall, or those who have been convicted of a DUI for the first time but have a history of reckless driving convictions.

According to the DUI Court website, the program offers enhanced supervision, counseling, and treatment to help participants function in the community with continuing support.

The program was started in 2008 and is now entering its 14th year. It was founded by former judge Melodie Clayton.

A total of 643 people have joined the program so far, and 479 have graduated. The program has a retention rate of 87%.

Judge Brewton has presided over all court sessions within the program since 2018.