A Benton County judge presented Corvallis defense attorney Rob Corl with a Champion of Recovery Award on Wednesday in front of a courtroom of drug treatment court participants.

“A champion is an ardent supporter of a cause or another person,” Circuit Judge David Connell said. “You have been a champion for the participants of drug treatment court.”

Corl, who has been a defense attorney in Corvallis for over 40 years and has served on the county’s drug treatment court for the last nine, is retiring soon. Drug treatment court coordinator Kate Ko hosted a retirement celebration for Corl during the program’s meeting time.

“The most rewarding thing by far that I’ve ever done with my legal career is work with drug treatment court,” Corl said.

And that’s because it works, he said.

The program provides supervised drug treatment for individuals who are addicted and facing criminal charges. Corl, who is a recovering alcoholic, said working with the program helps him stay clean and sober.

Drug Treatment Court combines the efforts of several local agencies, including the sheriff’s office, district attorney’s office, police departments and parole and probation. Corl advocates on behalf of participants in the program.

Retired Benton County Circuit Judge Janet Holcomb helped create the county’s drug treatment court and participated in the celebration via telephone. She said Corl has a no-nonsense approach to justice while also being a strong advocate for his clients.

“He was the ideal defense attorney to be on drug treatment court,” Holcomb said.

District Attorney John Haroldson said Corl has tested his cases and pressed him to be better.

“You have been a formidable opponent,” Haroldson said.

The district attorney said Corl has touched countless lives and some will never know suffering because of that.

Lisa Bjornstad, a former drug treatment court counselor, shared memories from national drug treatment court conferences she attended with Corl. Bjornstad said she has appreciated Corl’s wisdom, advice and friendship.

Adam Johnson, a counselor with drug treatment court, said Corl has stuck up for the program’s participants to make sure they’re treated fairly. Johnson said he’s been clean for 26 years.

“It’s people like Rob Corl who are the only reason I’m here right now,” Johnson said. “It’s the reason most of you guys are here right now and will be successful.”

Drug treatment court participant Kristina Hass thanked Corl for having faith in her. 

"I just want to say thank you for everything you've done for me and my recovery," she said. 

Lillian Schrock covers public safety for the Gazette-Times. She may be reached at 541-758-9548 or lillian.schrock@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at @LillieSchrock. 

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