On Monday, Jan. 4, the 11th Judicial District Court met amid heightened concerns about the coronavirus and its impact on Pershing County. 

In the interest of clarity, Judge Jim Shirley removed his face mask once he climbed the bench. The raised platform allows for social distancing. 

Court reporters face the challenge of transcribing ‘mask-speak’ into the official record. Pershing County’s Zoie Williams seemed unperturbed as her fingers flew over the stenotype machine.

Methamphetamine use accounts for a chunk of the cases that pass through courtroom. Monday’s calendar included two young women facing probation violation hearings. 

The highly addictive drug plagues their lives. Both came to court from jail.

Maggie Kathleen Gallagher, 29, admitted to the allegations in the violation report, including absconding from New Frontier on Nov. 29, less than a week after entering the court-ordered long-term treatment program.

“I’m sorry for leaving rehab,” Gallagher told the court. “I got so homesick. Also, they made you wear a mask 24/7. The only time you could take it off was in your room, and I got too anxious.”

Public defender Steve Cochran emphasized the victimless nature of Gallagher’s infractions. 

He noted that after leaving rehab, she turned herself in and was not high at the time. He argued for reinstatement on probation and placement in a long-term treatment facility.

Deputy District Attorney Todd Banks said he appreciated Cochran’s advocacy for the defendant. “The problem is that over the course of two years, Miss Gallagher has been placed in numerous treatment facilities and this has happened over and over again.”

Banks asked the judge to rescind Gallagher’s diversion opportunity. Under diversion, defendants can withdraw their guilty pleas after completing their programs. He argued for 60 days in jail followed by a dishonorable discharge from probation, noting that she’d already been in custody for 30 days.

Nevada courts give dishonorable discharges to people who do not satisfy the terms and conditions of probation. The defendants have no more obligations to the court. However, if they reoffend, future judges will note the status before offering probation.

Banks also noted the supportiveness of Gallagher’s family. “They’ve made repeated efforts to get her the help she needs and will continue to so without the judicial system,” he said.

“I do want to get better and succeed at life,” said Gallagher. “I don’t want to see my mom hurt anymore. She doesn’t need to see me go to prison.”

The judge raised a more immediate issue.

“The concern I have, when I read how much meth you ingested, is that you could end up dead,” he said. “That’s a real possibility and would cause great pain to the people who love you.”

The judge revoked Gallagher’s diversion and returned her to custody. She’ll be back in court on Mar. 1 for sentencing.

“If you have a potential program I’ll look at it,” he said.

Lindsey Morgan Guzman, 28, of Elko, also admitted to the allegations in the probation violation report, including the use of methamphetamine, alcohol and oxycodone. She was kicked out of the drug court program, arrested and taken into custody on Dec. 30. 

Guzman’s attorney, Rendal Miller, participated in the hearing by telephone. Lisa Brannon, representing the Division of Parole and Probation, joined the hearings telephonically throughout the day.

Miller asked the judge to reinstate his client’s probation. He also requested her release from jail to get her affairs in order before reporting for long-term drug treatment. Guzman is the mother of young children.

Banks questioned if the defendant fully admitted her addiction. He read from the probation violation report. “If there’s meth in front of Miss Guzman, she’ll use it because she’s an addict,” it said. “But what I hear from you, is ‘I can quit whenever I want.’”

Banks argued against prison but asked the judge to rescind Guzman’s diversion opportunity. He thought she should remain in custody until Miller obtained a bed date in a long-term treatment facility with substance abuse, mental health and parenting components.

When it was Guzman’s turn to speak she acknowledged her addiction. “I want to go to treatment,” she said. “I know I have a problem. I’ll do whatever it takes to get better.”

The judge rescinded Guzman’s diversion and sentenced her to 12 – 32 months in prison, suspended. He set her probation at 18 months with a one-year extension. 

She’ll remain in custody until Miller finds her a bed in a long-term treatment facility with the three components recommended by the court.

“I know you want to get out of jail,” the judge told the defendant. “But if I let you out and you use, and you go to the program while you’re high, they won’t let you in. I’m going to hold you in jail as a condition of probation until you have a bed date. Once you have that bed date, Mr. Miller will notify Mr. Banks, and they’ll file an order allowing your transfer to that program.”

“The process of going through a program is going to be long and difficult. Don’t mess it up. Your kids are more important than drugs. You’re more important than drugs,” he said.