The Athens News - 2/25/2015
Updated: Feb 28, 2018
Judge’s long-planned vets court takes a step forward
A special-docket veterans court long in the planning held its first organizational meeting last week, Athens County Common Pleas Court Judge George P. McCarthy announced in a news release.
McCarthy has been looking to establish Athens County's first veterans court since last year.
Specialized courts, aka "problem-solving courts," differ from traditional courts in that they include specially designed court calendars or dockets to address a specific type of offense or offender. A judge typically plays a supervisory role in such courts while social-service agencies and the probation authority collaborate in case management.
McCarthy also has announced his intention to establish a specialized-docket drug court. Such special courts are valuable, McCarthy has said, because they can give offenders a second chance in the same manner as a diversion program.
Those in attendance at the organizational meeting for the new veterans court included representatives from Health Recovery Services, Hopewell Health Centers, the Athens Police Department, the Ohio University Police Department, the Veterans Service Office, the Athens County Work Station, the county Prosecutor's Office, the Athens branch of the Ohio Public Defenders Office, and the Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime (T.A.S.C.), the release said.
"The meeting went very well and there was a lot of enthusiasm for the project," McCarthy commented. "There is a lot of support for moving forward."
McCarthy said he's pleased with the turnout despite the cold weather and called it a "good sign" that the establishment of the special docket was heading in the right direction.
The judge said he intends to have regular meetings to work on completing the proposed treatment program for veteran offenders. The final version of the plan will need to go to the Ohio Supreme Court for review and certification once completed.
"We are working on finalizing our treatment plan," McCarthy said. "To run a veterans court takes the cooperation and collaboration of a wide variety of community participants."
The collaborative effort has included the previously mentioned agencies that have come forward and answered the call to participate, McCarthy said.
"I appreciate that there are so many agencies here in Athens County that work so well together," he added. "We really are lucky here when it comes to cooperation… It certainly helps when putting together a comprehensive project like this."
Although McCarthy did not project a timeline for final certification from the Ohio Supreme Court, he said he's looking to get the special docket for veterans started and off the ground as soon as possible.