MADISON, Wis— In one Dane County Circuit Courtroom, something besides law and order takes centerstage.
Judge Mitchell Everett learned of drug court participant Charles Green’s love of chess, so he challenged him to a game— if he stayed sober and continued his treatment.
"I think it's always good when you see us doing things that they don't think we can do. Right, so two Black men sitting down playing chess together, I think that was just redefining what we think about the criminal justice system," Everett said while moving one of his chess board pieces.
After court, Everett came down from the bench to prove the point that advocacy, inclusivity and acceptance is important in recovery and that means encouraging the passions of his participants.
"Our job is to support the greatness in each one of them so they can achieve it for themselves and they can see it," Everett said.
"You know, I wasn't a big friend of courts and stuff because the court is like, 'Oh, you're in trouble.' I don’t feel like i'm in trouble when I come here," 52-year-old Green said.
Since childhood, Green has been a long-time player of chess and knows the game critical for his sobriety.
"Like I love chess so when I stray away from it, normally things are happening that don't supposed to be happening," he said.
So Everett pulled out his own personal boxed set. Rather than filled with traditional black and white board pieces, his symbolically uses copper and bronze."
"I don't like black and white; it's more racial. hey always say white goes first," Everett said as he prepared the board for a fair game.
He posted a photo of the match held earlier this month that has wracked up more than a thousand shares on Facebook. In it, he poignantly wrote, "He (Green) won the game, I won his trust."
For our cameras, and because Green had done so well this last week, Everett asked him he'd like a re-match.
"I'm gonna be more thoughtful because last time he took my queen," he said with a chuckle. "I'm nervous."
Everett asks all his drug participants to create or keep doing something that makes them happy, ranging from writing and painting to puzzles and knitting. He thinks hobbies are a positive way forward during any addiction battle.
"And for Mr. Green, I know he has a lot to live for and I want him to be around for a long time," Everett said shortly before the two wrapped up the re-match game of speed chess with a stale-mate ending.