newheader 11-2016

The Magistrate Court of DeKalb County, Georgia

English | Español    
  556 N. McDonough Street, DeKalb County Courthouse
Decatur, GA 30030-3356
Home Page Civil Issues Criminal Issues Misdemeanor Mental Health Court FAQs Contact

DeKalb County Magistrate Court Misdemeanor Mental Health Court

Misdemeanor Mental Health Court

Misdemeanor Mental Health Court Click the topic you want to learn more about from the list above.

If you don't see the topic listed above, please contact Ingrid Hall George at 404-371-2241.

Success Stories

return to success stories
return to Misdemeanor Mental Health Court main page

Rochelle Payton

Rochelle Payton was arrested in February 2012 after experiencing a frightening psychotic episode that compelled her to leave her four year old daughter with a convenience store clerk and flee the scene, later to be found by police crouched in a closet in her home. She was charged with Cruelty to Children, 3rd Degree. Command auditory hallucinations led Rochelle to believe her daughter was in grave danger and needed to be taken to a safe location. Media coverage of the story inaccurately stated that Rochelle abandoned her four year old at a bus stop. MMHC Judge Lindsay Jones coincidentally presided over Rochelle’s first appearance hearing. Concerned about Ms. Payton, Judge Jones went to the jail mental health unit to try to speak with her, but Rochelle was curled up in a ball, speaking incoherently. Rochelle was eventually stabilized, moved to the general population of the jail and released on bond in March.

While in jail, Rochelle’s home went into foreclosure and all her belongings were evicted. She had no identification, no home or family support and her daughter was in DFCS custody. Her charges were later reduced to Reckless Conduct and she was referred to the MMHC program where MMHC social workers completed an assessment and determined a preliminary diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder with Psychotic features.

Rochelle with her daughter

Rochelle and her MMHC case manager, Page McAleese

Rochelle had experienced mood swings, anxiety and long periods of sleeplessness and other symptoms for years but never had a mental health evaluation. She periodically heard voices but never as threatening and real as those she heard at the time of her arrest. DeKalb Community Service Board mental health providers confirmed Rochelle’s diagnosis and prescribed mood stabilizers along with regular therapist appointments. Her symptoms became manageable and she started piecing her life back together

MMHC connected Rochelle with United Way social workers, who secured a bed for her at City of Refuge shelter and helped her obtain a Georgia ID, food stamps and several other resources. By the end of May, United Way helped Rochelle obtain a two bedroom apartment through the Georgia Housing Voucher Program, a 2010 state initiative to provide supportive housing for people with serious and persistent mental illness.

Simultaneously, Rochelle worked diligently to regain custody of her daughter. Her MMHC case manager, Ms. McAleese, testified on Rochelle’s behalf twice at DeKalb Juvenile Court. The reunification process started with monitored visitations then overnight stays, and in October, Rochelle’s daughter, who was now four, was reunited with her mother. Rochelle’s 21 year-old son, who moved to North Carolina after her arrest, also moved back in with Rochelle and is working full-time.

While in MMHC, Rochelle exceeded the expectations of the court. She kept mental health appointments, took her medication, participated in MMHC Women’s Group meetings and applied for social security benefits while advocating for herself and her daughter. According to her MMHC case manager, “Rochelle spent countless hours in the law library educating herself on her rights concerning regaining custody of her daughter. She was also tireless in her efforts to manage her mental illness and establish a secure home environment for her children. I have never witnessed someone go from mental instability, homelessness and utter despair to a life that is filled with meaning and hopefulness in such a short period of time.” Rochelle states, “I went from hell to heaven in under a year.” Rochelle Payton truly shows that with psychoeducation, support, medication compliance, and hard work recovery can be a reality.

© The Magistrate Court of DeKalb County | All Rights Reserved Site Map  /  Disclaimer/Terms of Use
The Magistrate Court of DeKalb County, Georgia | 556 N. McDonough Street, Suite 270, DeKalb County Courthouse, Decatur, GA 30030-3356 | Phone: 404-371-2261
The Diversion Treatment Court of DeKalb County | 556 N. McDonough St. Room 1200D, DeKalb County Courthouse, DeKalb County Courthouse, Decatur, GA 30030 | Phone: 404-371-2241

Website Consultation, Website Design, and Search Engine Optimzation provided by WebXperts Design Inc. | 508 Compliance Consultation provided by