The State Bar Association of North Dakota Fall 2014 Gavel Magazine - Page 22

JUDICIAL SYSTEM ORGANIZES STAND DOWN COURT FOR VETERANS “We recognize that unresolved legal issues Doug Herman to act as a district judge can be a real roadblock in improving the to hear cases transferred from any North lives of homeless vets,” said Sally Holewa, Dakota county for the purposes of the North Dakota’s state special court session. Cass court administrator. Our veterans did County State’s Attorney “They can affect a Birch Burdick and his staff their duty when veteran’s ability to obtain developed transfer forms a valid driver’s license, so that veterans with legal they were called housing, employment, problems in other counties to service and they could easily transfer these public assistance and access to treatment. Our deserve our service cases to Cass County for the veterans did their duty stand down court session. now when they are when they were called to service and they deserve Fargo Municipal Judge Steve most in need of our service now when Dawson agreed to preside help. they are most in need of over any Fargo city cases help.” and municipal and district court staff worked to set up court rooms at Clanci Barnhardt, Veterans Justice Outreach the Cass County Courthouse for both the Coordinator for the Fargo VA, invited the district and municipal courts. Additionally, court system to participate in this year’s West Fargo Municipal Judge Susan Bailey stand down event, said deputy state court scheduled time at the West Fargo Municipal administrator Scott Johnson. Court to preside over cases from her jurisdiction. Holewa, joined by Chief Justice Gerald VandeWalle, evaluated the request and Monty Mertz, the Supervising Attorney at directed Johnson to see what steps the the Fargo Public Defender Office, recruited courts needed to take to get involved private practice defense attorneys to with the stand down. Johnson organized volunteer to represent veterans at the stand a meeting with representatives from the down court. At least six volunteer defense Department of Veteran’s Affairs, the ECJD, attorneys were on hand, ready to represent Fargo Municipal Court, Fargo Moorhead veterans, when the stand down court went prosecutors and defense bar, and Cass into session on the afternoon of Oct. 15. County court staff. Despite all the planning, Johnson admitted Working together, the groups formulated a that he and the rest of people involved in plan to have the VA identify veterans with setting up the special session did not know possible legal problems at the stand down what to expect from the stand down court. event and to transport those veterans to a special court session at the Cass County Ultimately, two veterans with outstanding Courthouse. Chief Justice VandeWalle cases in Fargo municipal court participated issued an order that allowed ECJD Judge in the special court session. With Judge “ MIKE HAGBURG Attorney at Law On Oct. 15, Cass/Clay Project Community Connect and the Fargo VA Healthcare system presented a veterans stand down event at the Fargodome. For the first time, the North Dakota judicial system participated in the event by offering a special court session to assist veterans with resolving some criminal matters. Stand downs have been spreading across the country since the first one was held in San Diego in 1988. In wartime, a military unit “stands down” when it is removed from the front lines to a place of safety. Stand down events for veterans are designed to provide a safe and convenient place for veterans, especially homeless veterans, to connect with service providers in the community. Court systems have been becoming increasingly involved in stand down events because veterans often face legal problems. 22 THE GAVEL ”