Saturday, April 27, 2013

Norfolk County Veterans Court

The first in Massachusetts Veterans Court has been meeting weekly at Dedham District Court since last year, under the leadership of Presiding Judge Mary Hogan Sullivan.  Defendants are sentenced to Probation and must comply with the Court's directions to seek services, stay sober and check in weekly with the Court in order to continue in the program and avoid incarceration. 

Veterans Courts are among a national growing number of "problem solving courts" dealing with issues such as drugs, fathering and homelessness.  These courts focus on the underlying problems of criminal defendants. Veterans suffering from post traumatic stress, substance abuse, and brain injuries are candidates for Veterans Courts.  Veterans Court sentences have resulted in many success stories at over 100 locations in the United States.

Additional support for Massachusetts veterans involved in criminal cases also occurred in 2012, when Massachusetts passed the Valor Act, which mandates that all District Courts in the Commonwealth screen defendants before arraignment as to their military status, in order divert them to programs that address their treatment needs.

Our Massachusetts Law About Veterans page links to many helpful benefit and legal resources for veterans.