Veterans’ Courts and Criminal Responsibility: A Problem Solving History & Approach to the Liminality of Combat Trauma
Justin G. Holbrook
Widener University School of Law
November 10, 2010
YOUNG VETERANS: A RESILIENT COMMUNITY OF HONOR, DUTY & NEED, Diann Cameron Kelly, David Gitelson and Sydney Howe Barksdale, eds., Springer, Forthcoming
Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-43
In September 2010, a federal judge dismissed a criminal case involving a veteran accused of assaulting a federal police officer to allow the case to be heard by the Buffalo Veterans Treatment Court, a division of Buffalo City Court. For those involved in veterans’ advocacy and treatment, the case is significant for a number of reasons. First, it is the first criminal case nationwide to be transferred from federal court to a local veterans treatment court where the goal is to treat - rather than simply punish - those facing the liminal effects of military combat. Second, the case reignites the still unsettled controversy over whether problem-solving courts generally, and veterans courts specifically, unfairly shift the focus of justice away from the retributive interests of victims to the rehabilitative interests of perpetrators. Third, the case serves as a signal reminder to all justice system stakeholders, including parties, judges, attorneys, and treatment professionals, of the potential benefits of sidestepping courtroom adversity in favor of a coordinated effort that seeks to ameliorate victim concerns while advancing treatment opportunities for veterans suffering from combat-related trauma. This chapter explores these issues in light of the history of combat-related trauma and the development of veterans’ treatment courts around the country.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 53
Keywords: Veterans, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Criminal Law, Veterans Courts
JEL Classification: K14, K4
Date posted: November 11, 2010 ; Last revised: November 18, 2010
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