The New York State Bar Association has approved the expansion of veterans courts and of studying whether to make its Special Committee on Veterans a permanent committee. In a report approved by the state bar's policy-setting House of Delegates on Nov. 17, the veteran's committee said the Veterans Treatment Court model developed in Buffalo has been successful and that similar courts should be available where a sufficient number of veterans are in need of its services.
The Buffalo court, developed under City Court Judge Robert Russell Jr. in 2008, seeks to deliver substance abuse services, job training and other assistance to veterans who have had relatively minor brushes with the law in conjunction with the Veterans Administration and other service providers. Russell said more than 200 ex-military have completed substance abuse treatment and other aspects of the program and criminal charges against them have been reduced or dismissed.
The House of Delegates approved the promotion of legislation in Albany that would make the formation of veterans' treatment courts easier and facilitate the transfer of qualifying defendants from the jurisdictions of other courts to veterans' treatment courts. The state bar veterans' committee was cochaired by Michael Lancer of Collins & Collins in Buffalo and Karen Hennigan, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District.