Local judge officiates wedding of man she once sentenced to jail

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LANSING, MI (WILX) -- First she gave him prison time, then she gave him life in matrimony.

Ingham Co. Judge Joyce Draganchuk officiates the wedding of Brittni Clark and Corey Warren, a man she sent to jail several times (source, Corey Warren).

Ingham County Judge Joyce Draganchuk recently officiated the wedding of a man who'd been in her courtroom multiple times as a criminal.

It was a complete 180, but not without bumps in the road.

Corey Warren ended up in front Judge Joyce Draganchuk numerous times starting as a teenager. Amid his battle with heroin addiction, she saw potential.

"I saw in Corey the potential to be a healthy, thriving human being, like I see in everyone who stands in front of me with addiction," Judge Draganchuk of Ingham Co. Circuit Court said.

Warren's heroin habit started in high school. He first ended up in Judge Draganchuk's courtroom when he was 18 for forging checks from his grandparents. He then became a regular, appearing multiple times, including for unarmed robbery in 2008. Judge Draganchuk sent Warren to jail, not for the max sentence, but enough to scare him.

"I looked back on the prior 19 years of my life, really the past five of using, and and thought to myself, what made me become this monster?" Warren said. "This was not the child that my mom raised."

But it wasn't all smooth sailing from there. When Warren got out, he resorted to alcohol and ended up in in court again.

"I was disappointed. He said I looked at him like I was his mother, and I can't compare his mother's suffering through all of this to what I felt but when I sentence people with addiction, and I am trying to help them along, and show them the way, I feel like everyone's mother," Judge Draganchuk said.

Warren was again sent to jail, this time on a work release program. Once he got clean, he and his mother created RISE Recovery, a non-profit to help people struggling with substance abuse. Fast-forward to 2016, he met Brittni Clark.

"It was just like one of those thing where we had been friends but then both of us would throw little hints, you know? We went out for coffee the next morning, and it's just been fireworks ever since. It's crazy, nothing in my life has ever felt so right," Warren said.

After proposing, he asked Judge Draganchuk to officiate the wedding.

"There's nobody, nobody I can think of to do this other than Judge Draganchuk. She's the perfect one, she's seen me through everything," Warren said.

The two tied the knot on June 2nd in Grand Ledge. The sunny day not only made for the perfect start to their marriage, it also represented hope.

"This was the most perfect full circle I could ever think of. This is not about me. It's about Corey. He did it, he worked through it. It can be done," Judge Draganchuk said.

"You know you meet people along the way, and sometimes the person you dislike the most because they are doing something that you dislike is the person that you end up having officiate your wedding," Warren laughed.

Judge Draganchuk also serves on Warren's board for non-profit that he and his mother created. The two see each other at the quarterly meetings and remain friends.

To learn more about RISE Recovery Community, click here.

If you, or a loved one is struggling with addiction, help is available. SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders. You can reach it at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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