Marion County to create veterans court

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Marion County plans to start a veterans court next year, a specialized problem-solving court that will allow diversion of lower-level criminal offenses for those who served in the military.

The Marion Superior Courts Executive Committee last week approved receipt of a $320,000 grant from the Department of Justice that will fund the court operations for three years.

Committee chairman Judge David Certo said it hasn’t been determined who will preside over the new court, but plans include hiring a veterans mentor coordinator at a salary of about $50,000 annually.

Certo said that position likely will have to be filled by a veteran, and the program will need to develop a cadre of volunteers willing to assist participants.

“The thing that’s unique about veterans court is there is a strong mentoring piece,” Certo said. The program also will aim to match veterans with mentors from the same service branch to help them navigate available resources and meet their veterans court obligations.

“The whole role of a mentor is to do things I can’t do from the bench,” Certo said.

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