2013 Indiana General Assembly

Senate panel scuttles plan for Lake veterans court

2013-03-14T19:15:00Z 2014-01-04T18:03:17Z Senate panel scuttles plan for Lake veterans courtDan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
March 14, 2013 7:15 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | The creation of a Lake County veterans court by the General Assembly may take at least another year after a Senate committee stripped the provision from an Indiana House bill.

State Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he was obligated to remove the Lake veterans court from the measure because the Indiana Commission on Courts has yet to determine the need for a new court.

Under Indiana law, the commission reviews all legislative requests to establish new courts and holds public hearings before recommending to the General Assembly whether a new court should be established.

A veterans court is a type of problem-solving court in which a judge works closely with veterans accused of low-level felony or misdemeanor crimes to provide access to treatment or other services that help resolve the underlying causes that sometimes drive veterans to break the law.

The plan for a Lake County veterans court, paid for with county drug-use prevention funds, was added last month to House Bill 1016 by state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, without going through that process.  

However, creating a veterans court does not require legislative approval. State law allows a county or city court to establish a veterans court on its own, subject to certification by state court officials.

The General Assembly would have to pass special legislation to allow Candelaria Reardon's atypical veterans court funding plan.

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