Court-Ordered Attendees

For recovery discussion
User avatar
Cascade Jack
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 80
Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:36 am
Location: Lynnwood, WA, US

Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Cascade Jack » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:43 pm

I'm sure this has been discussed before... but I haven't seen it lately so I figured I'd go ahead and ask.

Are there any AA groups that you know of which will not sign the paperwork of court-ordered attendees?

I'm asking only out of curiosity. I've attended a good many meetings now and one thing I can't help but notice is that there are a lot of "slips" to be signed that get dropped in the basket. And I also can't help but notice that the people who drop in those slips frequently don't even drop in any spare change, but help themselves to the coffee, etc.

Is this common? Do the courts make any financial contribution to AA groups in exchange for their sending thousands of DUI's, etc., to the rooms? Are there any groups that won't "play ball" along those lines?

Steven F
Forums Long Timer
Posts: 857
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:06 am
Location: Estonia

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Steven F » Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:22 am

AA.org has a publication called "AA Guidelines on Court DUI and similar programs". In essence, providing proof of attendance is seen as a "courtesy" offered by AA to the system. Contributions - monetary or in kind - from other people than AA members should not be accepted according to tradition seven.

If there is a financing problem, it is up to the group to explain tradition seven to everyone present. In fact, it is common to state in a meeting that contributions are entirely voluntary, but that they are needed to pay for the room, the coffee, ... It doesn't hurt to have the secretary or someone explain in a bit more detail what that means exactly. After all, people who are not involved in the "group management" could be forgiven to presume that everything is "just there", funded from somewhere else.

But be wary of paying attention to what others put in the basket. It's easy to start thinking about that in self-centred terms...

Sober25
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 166
Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 5:37 pm
Location: Tennessee

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Sober25 » Thu Nov 18, 2010 4:31 am

Steven F wrote: But be wary of paying attention to what others put in the basket. ..
Some people just don't have anythng to give. I've been there.
AA has one program of recovery - the 12 steps. It's tried, tested, proven and gauranteed.

Lali
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 4296
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:13 am

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Lali » Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:36 am

Cascade Jack wrote:Are there any AA groups that you know of which will not sign the paperwork of court-ordered attendees?
As long as the attendee stays for the entire meeting and is not disruptive, why would we not sign?
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

happycamper
Forums Long Timer
Posts: 931
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 4:36 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by happycamper » Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:53 am

Each group is autonomous and can refuse to sign anything if they so choose.
I sign them at my home group meeting, gladly. Dont see alot of court ordered ppl there tho since its a big book meeting and it has been my experience that if someone isn't intersted in AA or staying sober, its highly unlikely that they will show up at a big book meeting, unless its by mistake, lol.

I, myself am a former 'paper hanger'. Had to have a sheet signed @ every meeting to prove my attendance for a hearing with the DLAD in my state.
I had stacks and stacks of these sheets when it came time for a review. I had many , many different signatures and phone #'s of ppl from alot of different meetings in my district. ( which btw also proved helpful at times to have this list in case i needed to get in touch with someone ).

To my knowledge, no one ever received a call from anyone from the DLAD as to verification of my attendance at any given meeting.
I always threw a buck or 2 in the basket and still do to this day.

Its really none of my business if someone gets a paper signed and then doesnt make a donation, but drinks the coffee ....
Faith without works is dead

Steven F
Forums Long Timer
Posts: 857
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:06 am
Location: Estonia

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Steven F » Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:16 pm

lisar wrote:why would we not sign?
There is intense debate in some places and circles about court-ordered AA attendance. I'm not going to try to summarise it here, but possible reasons not to sign would be not to express opinion on outside issues, the anonymity of the one who signs, the question whether the attendee has a desire to stop drinking and therefore is or is not a member of AA, etcetera.

I'm just posting this to indicate that, for many, it is not that straight-forward. Not to start a discussion 8).

User avatar
foosnik
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 21
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:23 pm

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by foosnik » Thu Nov 18, 2010 3:02 pm

I have landed in many half-way houses during my drinking/drugging career. And a lot of them want their residents to attend a certain amount of outside meetings. And show proof in the form of a signed sheet.

It could change the dynamic of a meeting when you have a lot of people there that don't really want to be there. Like when they have a meeting at the half way house, usually 90% of the people don't want to be there and it makes for a crappy meeting. Most of the people in half-way houses are court ordered or just have no place else to go.

But a few or the people who are court ordered, granted it is probably a small select few, actually start to get something out of these meetings and it changes their life.

And yeah... if you hit a "low bottom" and you lost everything then you probably don't have any money to put in the basket. But these are actually, in my opinion, the people that need the AA meetings the most.

User avatar
Cascade Jack
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 80
Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:36 am
Location: Lynnwood, WA, US

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Cascade Jack » Thu Nov 18, 2010 3:53 pm

The following comments get to the heart of why I asked this question:
As long as the attendee stays for the entire meeting and is not disruptive, why would we not sign?

...the question whether the attendee has a desire to stop drinking and therefore is or is not a member of AA...

Its really none of my business if someone gets a paper signed and then doesnt make a donation, but drinks the coffee ....
First, let me assure you I've also been in desperate financial positions. I've lived one paycheck away from hunger and homelessness. That was just the way things worked out, despite my best efforts. I make it a point to assume that if anybody else has no money to spare, it's not "their fault." I certainly don't begrudge somebody a cup of coffee at a meeting if they're there to stay sober and just can't afford it right now.

But with all of that said.... The whole reason I even asked this question is due to a meeting I attended last week. The meeting chair said, right at the beginning of the meeting, that he had some unfortunate news, namely that the group has not been collecting enough money to pay for rent, much less coffee, so don't be surprised if the Tradition 7 basket goes around more than once after he counts up the contributions.

Now, this is a well populated meeting. If everybody there gave one dollar, rent and coffee would be covered and then some. Normally I throw in a dollar, for that meeting I threw in two and would have contributed more if necessary to cover the paltry rent.

As usual, that basket didn't have much in the way of contributions in it by the time it made its way back to the facilitator -- but it was overflowing with slips of paper to be signed. And I'm sorry, but it's hard not to put two and two together and draw some sad conclusions there.

But beyond that, it also cannot help but get you thinking. It is also true that some of these court-appointed folks do interrupt meetings. It is commonplace for them to breeze in a half hour late, interrupting somebody's share so they can find a free chair and go get a coffee -- and this is usually just in time for the basket to go 'round, naturally, so in goes their slip. Their body language and demeanor throughout the rest of the meeting make it as obvious as can be that they cannot wait to be gone (sitting in a remote corner not facing the group, playing games on the cell phone, I kid you not), etc. And it's plainly obvious they are not there because of a desire to quit drinking, they are only there to mollify the court by getting the damn slip signed.

I'm not trying to be a big old meanie, here. And I will gladly continue to attend all manner of meetings with all manner of people, because I'm selfish and I realize that can only help me. But I do think there should be some meetings that make no bones of the fact that they do not sign court paperwork as a matter of policy. People who aren't serious about the program will avoid those meetings as a result and people will self-select into those meetings who are deadly serious, enough so that they want to surround themselves only with people who are just as committed.

User avatar
ann2
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 7938
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 2:01 am
Location: Somewhere in Sweden

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by ann2 » Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:34 pm

My experience was that my home group was very popular with court-ordered. We signed, we had a lot of space for them to hide out in the back, we were a speaker meeting, we had a break half-way through the meeting and the guys could get their slips signed then and leave.

We also had a very strong group with some great recovered people who reached out to the newcomer (me and others) -- we had a beginners meeting before the regular meeting, we had Al-Anon next door during the regular meeting. We had bikers and vietnam vets and wet brains who were cherished members of the group.

I think we were attractive as a group in general. And we liked the extra people signing in the back, we liked the audience we could provide our visiting speakers from other groups. We were positive, we had a great secretary who just oozed fun in sobriety, in a calm way, we had a mixed age, mixed gender group, people from all backgrounds.

It can work. I don't think it's the problem of court-ordered attendance. Outreach to bring in more group members, group inventory, and Tradition 2 -- these would be of more help than picking on the people who show up to fulfill their legal promises.

Ann
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

Steven F
Forums Long Timer
Posts: 857
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:06 am
Location: Estonia

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Steven F » Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:55 pm

My dear Ann - what a wonderfully positive reply :-).

That really reminds me of Chuck Chamberlain. One day I sit and look at the world full of negative feelings, the next day I sit and look at that same world and realise I'm in heaven. That is all this alcoholic needed to know about that "new pair of glasses" deal :-).

User avatar
Karl R
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3701
Joined: Sat Jul 19, 2008 3:06 pm

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Karl R » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:46 am

Dr. Silkworth may have had something in the last phrase of "The Doctor's Opinion"
though perhaps he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.
Sometimes the court ordered scoff....then listen....then decide they may be one of us....then remain with us "in" the fellowship in AA. How are we to say?

cheers,
Karl

User avatar
Marc L
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1549
Joined: Sat May 03, 2008 8:04 pm
Location: South Florida. U.S.A.

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Marc L » Fri Nov 19, 2010 11:39 am

(C)ourt (O)rdered Individuals arrive after being slapped with hefty fines from DUI or whatever. They are often not in the best of moods and it's almost adding insult to injury to force AA meetings upon them. Throwing the slip in the basket only assures they will have to come back to get it signed.

At the beginning of the meeting simply announce that court slips will be handled at the front desk when the meeting is over. This seems to work but some individuals must rinse and repeat before they get the message. That's the way it goes sometimes.

Marc
Recovery won't just happen by Osmosis. You gonna' have to work at it some.
12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.

Lali
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 4296
Joined: Sat Jan 31, 2009 8:13 am

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Lali » Fri Nov 19, 2010 2:32 pm

MarcLacroix wrote:They are often not in the best of moods and it's almost adding insult to injury to force AA meetings upon them.
I guess you are writing from the perspective of someone who has gotten a DUI but I will say that I got a DUI in 2006 and I honestly didn't complain much about the things I was required to do as a condition of my probation. Like "they" say, don't do the crime if you can't do the time." And as far as being required to go to AA meetings, some people decide to stick around. It could be a lifesaver for some.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

User avatar
Marc L
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1549
Joined: Sat May 03, 2008 8:04 pm
Location: South Florida. U.S.A.

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by Marc L » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:45 pm

lisar wrote:
MarcLacroix wrote:They are often not in the best of moods and it's almost adding insult to injury to force AA meetings upon them.
I guess you are writing from the perspective of someone who has gotten a DUI but I will say that I got a DUI in 2006 and I honestly didn't complain much about the things I was required to do as a condition of my probation. Like "they" say, don't do the crime if you can't do the time." And as far as being required to go to AA meetings, some people decide to stick around. It could be a lifesaver for some.
I've never gotten a DUI. I drank at home. I stayed off the roads and out of trouble. 8)
When I chaired and led 'Weekend Winner' meetings there were people in attendance who had been court ordered for whatever reason. These people would often want be anywhere else... and not receptive to the AA message.

Marc
Recovery won't just happen by Osmosis. You gonna' have to work at it some.
12th Step work ain't just a job... It's an Adventure.

bigjoe
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 71
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 5:38 pm
Location: san diego ca

Re: Court-Ordered Attendees

Post by bigjoe » Fri Nov 19, 2010 5:51 pm

A very controversial topic. in my area court slips are only signed in open meetings and they are not signed at closed meetings, and many of the open meetings under group conscience refusing to sign court slips , the reason is in the state of California when you signed a court slip from the Superior Court of California .the Secretary that signs that court slip becomes an agent of the court they can now be subpoenaed in a court hearing which breaks are traditions

court slips in my area have become very unpopular because of their behavior in and outside meetings as I said before it is a trend in my area to not sign. but there are always welcome to stay but few do stay when they find out that the court slip will not be signed. their only their to appease the court and the judge
Let no one read your big book for you

Post Reply