Calbert leaves for DA’s office

Published 12:29 am Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Warren County Guardian Ad Litem program bid farewell to one of its most active, longest-serving members Friday as Susie Calbert departed for a position in Ninth Circuit District Attorney Richard Smith’s office.

Calbert, who helped implement the program along with Joyce Edmond, served as the court appointed special advocates coordinator for the past six years, and will now serve as a victim assistance coordinator with the DA’s office.

Calbert replaces Melinda Braxton, and her salary will be paid for through the Victim of Crime Act grant. The same grant paid Braxton’s salary, Smith said. Braxton chose to leave the post Oct. 1 at the end of the grant year, Smith said.

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“Her background and education is just perfect for the position,” Smith said of Calbert.

The Ninth Judicial Circuit serves Warren, Sharkey and Issaquena counties.

CASA works with the county’s youth court and ad litem program to assess the needs of abused and neglected children and address them through the schools and the Department of Human Services.

Guardian ad litems are appointed to represent the interests of youths that enter the youth court system. They monitor the child in conjunction with a social worker, ensuring proper treatment in schools and at home.

Joyce Edmond, GAL coordinator said Calbert’s departure would be tough for the volunteers.

“Susie has been with me from the beginning and has been a great asset for us,” Edmond said. “We’ve always been committed to work with children. It’s fulfilling to come in and help recruit and supervise these volunteers to make children’s lives better.”

Calbert said that she will not be completely removed from the youth court organizations.

“We all network together to service the community,” Calbert said. “The big difference with my new position is really just the types of crimes I’ll be working. Whereas I was just working youth cases, I’ll work with all types of crimes now.”

County Judge Johnny Price said Calbert’s departure is bittersweet.

“I have complete confidence in her ability to assess the households and make recommendations that benefit the children,” Price said. “We hate to lose her.”

He went on to say that court would be different without Calbert.

“Susie sits in on every youth court case we hear,” Price said. “The Guardian ad litems are trained citizens that volunteer and are sent out in the community to be the eyes and ears of the youth court. It’s an invaluable service. Without the resources of CASA and the Guardian Ad Litem program, the youth court couldn’t function effectively. They come back to open court and make recommendations and assessments to us.”

Price said the service was vital to the youth court’s role in the community.

“It’s invaluable,” Price said. “Without the resources of CASA and the Guardian Ad Litem program, the youth court couldn’t function effectively.”