Late last year, Hawkins County Sessions Judge J. Todd Ross launched a Recovery Court program, also sometimes called “drug court,” for the purpose of giving drug offenders an opportunity to receive drug treatment before entering the punishment phase of their criminal court case.
Shortly before noon Wednesday, Debbie Sue Merrill, 41, 1404 Melinda Ferry Road, Lot 11, Rogersville, was removed from Ross’ courtroom by officers who suspected she was under the influence.
Merrill initially stated she hadn’t taken anything and was there for “drug court.”
A Recovery Court health liaison informed the officers Merrill was in court to receive a drug screen.
Merrill was then taken into the restroom by a female probation officer and the female health liaison to provide a urine sample.
Moments later Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Susan Greer was summoned into the restroom and informed by the two witnesses that a pill bottle containing urine had allegedly fallen out of Merrill’s body cavity.
“Ms. Merrill admitted to both ladies that she had taken pills before court,” Greer stated in her report. “I then escorted Ms. Merrill over to the jail. Ms. Merrill admitted she had taken two Xanax pills.”
A jail officer also allegedly found a snorting straw in Merrill’s pocket.
Merrill was charged with public intoxication, possession of drug paraphernalia, and falsifying the results of a drug test.
She was lodged in the Hawkins County Jail without bond pending arraignment set for March 11.