Registration Deadline For Veterans Outreach Court In Tampa

Here’s an opportunity for veterans living in Hillsborough County to resolve outstanding misdemeanor warrants, fines, legal fees and ordinance violations.

This is the second year that the Veterans Outreach Court is offering low income and homeless veterans a chance to clear up their court record.

Close to 100 veterans got help with their minor legal issues during the one-day outreach court last year.

Cases the outreach court will not hear:

  • domestic violence
  • child support
  • active felony warrants
  • cases already pending in Veterans Treatment Court

But to take advantage, veterans must act because today, October 26, 2018, the deadline to register.

The 2018 Hillsborough Veterans Outreach Court is free and scheduled in two weeks, Friday, November 9, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital Primary Care VA Annex, 13515 Lake Terrace Lane, in Tampa.

Online registration is available for veterans at the Hillsborough County Clerk of Court website: www.hillsclerk.com.

All qualified participants will receive a notification by mail.  Veterans can also view their case online at www.hover.hillsclerk.com.

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VA Secretary Hails Success of Veterans Courts

Retired General Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, discusses the VA's support for Veterans Treatment Courts during the inaugural Justice For Vets Veterans Treatment Court conference at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on Monday, December 2, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Paul Morigi/AP Images for The National Association of Drug Court Professionals)

Retired General Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, discusses the VA’s support for Veterans Treatment Courts during the inaugural Justice For Vets Veterans Treatment Court conference at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on Monday, December 2, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Paul Morigi/AP Images for The National Association of Drug Court Professionals)

Florida lawmakers joined a growing trend last year when they allowed the establishment of Veterans Courts if approved by the chief judge of the circuit. But some Florida judges were already dealing with veterans issues separately on their daily dockets.

The success of Veterans courts was noted this week by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki at an inaugural conference for Veterans Treatment Courts held by the National Association of Drug Court Professionals  in Washington D.C.

Part of Shinseki’s speech:

For Veterans entering the justice system who are already dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues, we have established Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO)—172 full-time specialists, working directly with justice officials, to see that Veterans who are before the court or already in jail get the care they need and that courts are supported in their consideration of best possible alternatives to incarceration. We are also working to connect our VJO specialists with American Indian tribal justice systems to do the same thing.

In their first year, 2010, VJO specialists served 5,800 Veterans. This year, that number is up to nearly 36,000 Veterans, and we plan to hire another 75 specialists next year.

The core of the Veterans Treatment Courts is first the judge who is familiar with issues some veterans struggle with like traumatic brain injury and PTSD and it offers a team approach for defendant to receive support and services from veterans groups, VA specialists and social support experts.

Find more information and a map of available Veterans Courts here. The complete transcript of the Secretary’s speech is available here.

Judge Patt Maney Inspires Veterans Dockets in Florida

Judge Patt Maney and his wife Caroline when he was awarded Patriot of the Year (2010) by the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

This year, lawmakers gave Florida’s chief judges the power to set up a “Veterans Docket” for military members and veterans in minor legal trouble. Retired Army Reserve Brigadier General and Okaloosa County Judge T. Patt Maney advocated for the idea.

“We need to look at what the real problems are for the service members and the veterans and their families and to address those problems,” Maney said in an interview with WUSF. “And if they’re legal problems, we need to create a structure that will protect the public, save the public money and do justice to the veterans their families and the service members.”

Maney understands those veterans’ problems first-hand. His vehicle was blown up by improvised bomb when he was serving in Afghanistan in 2005. He spent almost two years in Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. recovering from injuries including traumatic brain injury or TBI.

In an interview with Bobbie O’Brien, Judge Maney shares what it’s like living with TBI symptoms where you struggle to accomplish even the simplest task like using a self-service gasoline pump or remembering a word.

JUDGE T. PATT MANEY: Literally, you’d get three or four or five words out and then have a 15 or 20 second pause while you tried to think of the next word. Those pregnant pauses make it hard for people who are listening also to keep track of the conversation. But, it’s very frustrating for the person who is speaking

BOBBIE O’BRIEN: At that point were you thinking I’ll never be able to sit on the bench again?

MANEY: Well, the Army had already told me they were going to medically retire me and I was convinced at that point I was not going to be able to go back on the bench because I did not at that point have the capacity to do the job.

People want judges not only who are fair but judges who listen, who remember and then apply law to the facts they’ve heard in evidence and I couldn’t do that.

O’BRIEN: That had to have been a terrifying time for you?

MANEY: But it all turned out very well and because of that experience. I am fortunate enough to judge in community that has a large number of veterans and a large number of active duty people. We’re the home of Eglin Air Force Base. And so, I started noticing in court defendants coming through that demonstrated in court some of the symptoms that I had lived. And so I started paying more attention to them and asking them if they were veterans and asking them if they had deployed and asking them if they had been blown up. Continue reading

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