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Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Ind. Courts - "A Court that Cares: Judge Granger answers call of duty with special court for veterans"

On Nov. 29th the ILB quoted from a story in the Evansville Courier & Press on the Vanderburgh County's Veterans Treatment Court.

Today Maureen Hayden of the CNHI Statehouse Bureau reports in the New Albany News & Tribune in a long story that begins:

NEW ALBANY — Floyd County Superior Court No. 3 Judge Maria Granger is the proud daughter of a retired Marine, sister to a former sailor, and wife and stepmother of soldiers. She answered her call of duty in a different way: By creating a problem-solving court for veterans who find themselves in legal trouble.

Every Monday in her courtroom, young service members who’ve run afoul of the law in returning to civilian life appear in front of Granger to be sentenced to counseling and treatment instead of a jail or prison cell.

Her sentencing conditions are strict — supervision is intense and monitoring is frequent — but they’re handed down with a team of reinforcements that includes volunteer mentors who themselves have survived the experience of war.

It’s an interventionist approach, modeled on veterans treatment courts across the nation, that Granger says honors the guarantee of “restorative justice” found in the Indiana constitution.

It’s also a labor of love, done in the name of her stepson, Army Sgt. Steven Paul Mennemeyer, a combat medic in the Iraq war killed in the line of duty.

“I was so proud of him,” said Granger. “This is just one of the ways I can honor him.”

The special court that Granger started in February is one of four such courts in Indiana launched in partnership with the Veterans Administration and in collaboration with local prosecutors, defense attorneys, police and corrections officials. Two more are in the making.

Their existence is in response to a trend that Granger and other judges have seen in recent years: An increasing number of young service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan showing up in court, charged with relatively small crimes linked to bigger mental health issues, including substance abuse and addiction.

ILB: Readers may recalled that Judge Granger was a semi-finalist for the Supreme Court position to which Justice Massa was ultimately appointed.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 4, 2012 08:56 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts