In January of 2008, he created and began presiding over this Country’s first “Veterans’ Treatment Court”, in the United States. The Veterans Treatment Court is a hybrid Drug Court/Mental Health Court Model for justice involved veterans that features regular court appearances (a bi-weekly minimum in the early phases of the program), mandatory attendance at treatment sessions, and frequent and random testing for substance abuse use (drug and/or alcohol). The Veterans Treatment Court acts as a “one-stop shop” at the courthouse, with a team of Federal, state, and local veteran’s agencies and organizations working together to link veterans with the programs, benefits, and services they have earned. For his dedication and perseverance in helping the country’s veterans, The National Vietnam Veterans of America has awarded Judge Russell with the Vietnam Veterans of America Achievement Medal and The National Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States has awarded Judge Russell with the James E. Dan Zandt Citizenship Award. Judge Russell is also the recipient of the 2014 White House Advocates for Action Award, presented by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the recipient of 2015 AMVETS Silver Helmet Award.
Judge Russell has been a pioneer in the drug treatment court movement and remains a strong leader to this day. In December 1995, Judge Russell created “Buffalo’s Drug Treatment Court” and continues to serve as the Presiding Judge. In addition, in December 2002, he established and began serving over Buffalo’s Mental Health Treatment Court.
Judge Russell is the Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of NADCP and the Past President of the New York State Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals, Inc. He also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Judges’ Criminal Justice and Mental Health Leadership Initiative. He is the recipient of several Awards of Merit from the American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, and the Erie County Bar Association.