Two Ely locals graduated from the Seventh District Court’s drug rehabilitation program at the White Pine County courthouse on April 11.
About 30 people including family members attended the ceremony in the district courtroom.
The drug court brought in drug and alcohol services where there were none before,” District Judge Steve Dobrescu said.
Michael Perez, 51, and Shaun Baker, 37, received diplomas and took photos with the judges.
Perez was born in Ely and had previously served prison time. He was on parole at the time of his last arrest in 2013. Later convicted of six felonies, Perez has been clean for 595 days and now works as a cook at a local hotel.
“The judges were always fair with me,” Perez said. “It’s a good program. Don’t worry about anything else, just worry about yourself. I recommend it to anybody.”
Baker landed on probation after his arrest in 2013, but never checked in with his probation agent, eventually getting caught and serving six months in jail.
“I was really tired of going in and out of jail,” Baker said. “Once I got over myself, everything became easier.”
Although only a gross misdemeanor case not required to complete the program, Baker stayed. He has been clean for 814 days.
Originally from California, Baker has lived in Ely for 16 years. He plans to move to the Ashland-Medford area of Oregon and start a small business as a tattoo artist.
“It’s a good program,” Baker said. “Anybody could do it if they want to. You have to want to change.”
“I have three words,” District Judge Gary Fairman said to the graduates. “You have changed. And not just Shaun’s hair.”
The attendants, and Baker, laughed as the judge drew attention to Baker’s hairstyle, a bright blue combination of a mohawk and ponytail.
“There are plenty of people who didn’t succeed in drug court,” Fairman said. “They didn’t want to change. You are both to be commended. You’ve made great progress.”