News Item
Hennepin Veterans Court Marks 100th Graduate

Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013

Veterans Court in Hennepin County recently presented a medallion to its 100th graduate from the intensive 12-18 month program. In order to graduate, participants must successfully complete court ordered chemical dependency treatment and/or domestic abuse programming, and work with the VA Medical Center or community based resources on other programming as indicated in their case plan.

Veterans Court promotes sobriety, recovery, and stability through a collaborative and cooperative effort between the Fourth Judicial District Court, Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation (DOCCR), the VA Medical Center, VA Benefits Administration, and volunteer veteran mentors coordinated through Metropolitan Center for Independent Living. The Hennepin County Veterans Service Office and Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development also provide direct services to the veterans in this court program. Presiding Hennepin County Veterans Court Judge Kerry Meyer stated, “The collaboration of many different agencies is very effective for providing necessary services to our veteran defendants. That success is easily identified in the over 100 veterans who have completed the program to date.”

The problem-solving court serves veteran defendants struggling with addiction, mental health issues, and/or co-occurring disorders, and is a hybrid of the drug court and mental health court models.  Participation in the voluntary program requires the consent from the Veterans Court judge, prosecutor, defense attorney and defendant.

The most common offenses for participants entering Veterans Court are DWIs (40%) and domestic offenses (20%). The remaining 40% include assaults, terroristic threats, drug possession, property crimes, driving-related offenses, and disorderly conduct offenses.

During the first six months after entry into Veterans Court, 83% of participants commit fewer offenses as compared with the six months just prior to entry. Meyer emphasized, “The team continues to focus on identifying appropriate participants for this court program so that we can provide the best services to meet their unique needs and ultimately prevent future crimes.”

The “Fourth Judicial District Veterans Court – Two Year Review:  July 2010 – June 2012” reports that participants are extremely satisfied with the services accessed through Veterans Court in striving to achieve its six goals: to reduce criminal recidivism, promote sobriety, increase compliance with treatment and other court-ordered conditions; improve access to VA benefits and services, improve family relationships and social support connections, and improve life stability.

Judge Kerry Meyer presides over Veterans Court. Hearings are on Mondays at 10:00 a.m. at the Hennepin County Government Center in courtroom C857 and are open to the public.  For more information contact Allison Holbrook at 612-348-6302.  Veterans Court is closed on Monday, November 11, 2013, to observe Veterans Day, a legal holiday.