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County Councilman Bud Otis

Proposed Frederick County Charter Amendments

(12/2016) On a chilly Wednesday, October 26th at 9 a.m. a very special proceeding was held in County Courtroom #4. Judge Scott Rolle gaveled the start of the very first Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) held for our county. Judge Rolle addressed each of the veterans before him in court by their rank. They came before him and stood at parade rest. He thanked each of them for their service to our country and spoke to them more like a mentor than what you’d expect from a court judge. The atmosphere was strict, yet kind. The responses from the veterans, "Yes Sir," "No Sir." It was apparent that they respected their military roles and wanted to show respect to the judge and those in court.

So, you’re wondering…what is a Veterans Treatment Court? It is a combined effort to identify veterans who have found themselves in the judicial system and the recognition that there may be mitigating circumstances from their service to this country which have led them to perpetrate crimes. Using the internal resources of the Frederick County judicial system, States Attorney’s office, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, veteran advocates from the Veterans Administration and local non-profits such as Building Veterans, The Purple Moon Project, and the county’s health department, State’s DHMH, among others to assist the veteran in the newly formed treatment process.

The goal of this participatory specialized court is to assist the veterans in providing resources to help them get the services they need to succeed in life and not return to the court system. This may take 6 months to 2 years or more as the treatment plan will be tailored to each participant.

This idea had been in the dream stages for a while and came into being after less than 6 months of planning from inception to implementation. I wanted to help veterans in a tangible way to receive needed services to help them, their families and the community. Back in early May initial discussions to devise a plan took place. In late June, I reached out and organized a group of veteran-centric interested parties to the table to brainstorm a way to bring a VTC here to Frederick County. This group included Judge Julie Solt, Erica LeMon from MD’s Office of Problem Solving Courts, Melissa Barber of MD’s Commitment to Veterans and the Veteran Support Network, David Gowers from the VA Medical Center’s Justice Outreach, Cyrus Jaghoory – Judge Rolle’s law clerk, Paul Wolford of the FC Drug Treatment Court, Jim Patrick from Building Veterans and the Veterans Support Network Chair for VTC, Karl Madden of Building Veterans, and Craig Tyler from The Purple Moon Project.

It is a very new process and will be adjusted as it grows to best make use of this option for eligible veterans.

Judge Rolle is in process of application for the formal VTC title from the State of Maryland, and wanted to kick off the program to start helping veterans now and being able to refine the process along the way.

Once approved, Frederick County will be the third county in the state to have a VTC. We are very proud of this collective program and look forward to a new tradition of honoring the service of our veterans. The 2nd docket was held at 9 am on November 30, 2016 in Judge Rolle’s Courtroom #4 on the 3rd floor of the County Courthouse. The December docket will be on Wednesday, December 21st at the same time and location as noted above.

We owe such a debt of gratitude to our veterans ….this is one way to put that sentiment into action.

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