Bill S7814-2013

Relates to veterans courts

Establishes veterans courts for the purpose of hearing and determining criminal cases involving veterans.

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  • Jun 11, 2014: REFERRED TO JUDICIARY

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BILL NUMBER:S7814

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the judiciary law, in relation to veterans courts

PURPOSE:

This bill would establish Veteran Treatment Courts (VTCs) within the framework of the state's criminal justice system.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section one amends the Judiciary Law by adding a new article 5-C, "Veterans Courts", which includes new section 178-a, relating to the establishment of Veterans Treatment Courts throughout New York State, and new sections 178-b and 178-c, which would provide procedures for transferring cases from other courts to Veterans Treatment Courts.

JUSTIFICATION:

Since 2001, more than 2.25 million United States troops have been deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF). Our veterans return home with a unique set of health related illnesses, which often go untreated, leading to destructive or criminal behavior, such as substance abuse or addiction. A survey conducted by the Justice Department found that approximately 60% of the 140,000 veterans in federal and state prisons were struggling with a substance use disorder, and 25% reported being under the influence of drugs at the time of the offense. Furthermore, a study conducted by the RAND Corporation in 2008 found that 31% of troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have a service-related mental health condition or traumatic brain injury (TBI). One of the most common detriments of war is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental health condition. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that roughly 11% of veterans who served in OEF, and 20% of veterans who served in OIF suffer from PTSD, which can lead to depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse. Unfortunately, due to the stigma associated with mental health issues, many veterans do not seek treatment. Left untreated, these conditions often times lead to the disruption of family life, loss of employment and trigger actions which lead to criminal prosecution. Veterans many times enter the criminal justice system on charges which stem from mental illness or substance abuse often due to trauma experienced during their active military service.

Veteran Treatment Courts recognize the unique needs of our veterans by helping those who have been charged with certain crimes get on the correct path, and become productive members of society, while ensuring public safety and trust in the criminal justice system. Enacting a statutory framework for the establishment and operation of Veteran Treatment Courts throughout the state will help increase the number of these valuable forums within the court system and provide access to a range of services for appropriate veteran criminal defendants.

Veteran Treatment Courts have been created in a limited number of areas in New York State, including the City of Buffalo, which has been recognized as the first court of its kind in the country. However, these courts only handle cases commenced within a particular county.

This bill would expand accessibility to Veteran Treatment Courts by allowing them to hear cases from other courts within the judicial district.

These courts utilize a model similar to that of the drug and mental health courts, providing a court-based system of assessment, treatment, review hearings, and graduated sanctions. They provide veterans with the opportunity to receive the benefit of Veterans Administration programs and local social services, an opportunity for employment, and - when appropriate -- rehabilitation rather than incarceration. The following components are important to the successful operation of Veterans Treatment Courts:

-Voluntary participation by veterans;

-Coordination of activities with federal agencies, community-based service providers and local agencies;

-Mentoring by successful veterans in the community;

-Flexibility for local officials; and,

-Tracking outcomes.

With the fourth largest veteran population in the country, New York State is committed to providing veterans with the necessary resources and services upon their return from active military service. Enhancing the development of Veteran Treatment Courts will build on a successful model and provide appropriate veterans with access to the various services provided by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, and other community-service organizations which assist with housing, employment and family matters. It is important to the personal success of our returning service men and woman that they receive these unique and specialized services through Veteran Treatment Courts.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

New bill

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:

To be determined.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

The first of January next succeeding the date in which it shall have become law.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7814 IN SENATE June 11, 2014 ___________
Introduced by Sen. ZELDIN -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Judiciary AN ACT to amend the judiciary law, in relation to veterans courts THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The judiciary law is amended by adding a new article 5-C to read as follows: ARTICLE 5-C VETERANS COURTS SECTION 178-A. ESTABLISHMENT OF COURTS FOR VETERANS. 178-B. TRANSFER OF CASES TO COURTS FOR VETERANS; HOW EFFECTUAT- ED. 178-C. PROCEDURE IN A COURT FOR VETERANS UPON TRANSFER OF CASE THERETO. S 178-A. ESTABLISHMENT OF COURTS FOR VETERANS. THE CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR OF THE COURTS, BY ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER, IS AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO ESTABLISH A COURT FOR VETERANS IN ANY CRIMINAL COURT IN THE STATE, AND ASSIGN ONE OR MORE JUSTICES OR JUDGES TO PRESIDE THEREIN. SUCH COURT FOR VETERANS SHALL HAVE AS ITS PURPOSE THE HEARING AND DETERMINATION OF: 1. CRIMINAL CASES THAT ARE COMMENCED IN THE COURT FOR VETERANS AGAINST A DEFENDANT IDENTIFIED AS A VETERAN; AND 2. CRIMINAL CASES THAT ARE COMMENCED IN OTHER COURTS OF THE COUNTY OR COURTS IN ANOTHER COUNTY WITHIN THE JUDICIAL DISTRICT, AND THAT ARE IDENTIFIED AS APPROPRIATE FOR DISPOSITION BY THE COURT FOR VETERANS AND TRANSFERRED TO THE COURT FOR VETERANS AS PROVIDED IN SECTION ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-EIGHT-B OF THIS ARTICLE. S 178-B. TRANSFER OF CASES TO COURTS FOR VETERANS; HOW EFFECTUATED. 1. TRANSFER OF CASES PENDING IN LOCAL CRIMINAL COURTS. (A) A LOCAL CRIMINAL COURT IN A COUNTY IN WHICH A COURT FOR VETERANS HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED UNDER THIS ARTICLE OR A LOCAL CRIMINAL COURT IN ANOTHER COUNTY WITHIN THE JUDICIAL DISTRICT MAY, UPON MOTION OF THE DEFENDANT AND WITH THE CONSENT OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, CAUSE COPIES OF PAPERS AND OTHER DOCU- MENTS FILED IN SUCH LOCAL CRIMINAL COURT IN CONNECTION WITH A CRIMINAL
ACTION OR PROCEEDING PENDING THEREIN TO BE SENT TO THE COURT FOR VETER- ANS: (I) UPON OR AFTER ARRAIGNMENT OF THE DEFENDANT ON A LOCAL CRIMINAL COURT ACCUSATORY INSTRUMENT BY WHICH SUCH ACTION OR PROCEEDING WAS COMMENCED; OR (II) UPON OR AFTER COMMENCEMENT OF A PROCEEDING BROUGHT AGAINST A DEFENDANT FOR THE VIOLATION OF A CONDITION OF A SENTENCE OF PROBATION OR A SENTENCE OF CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE. (B) NOT LATER THAN FIVE DAYS FOLLOWING RECEIPT OF THE PAPERS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS, THE JUSTICE OR JUDGE PRESIDING IN THE COURT FOR VETERANS SHALL DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT A TRANSFER OF THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING TO THE COURT WOULD PROMOTE THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. IF THE JUSTICE OR JUDGE PRESIDING IN THE COURT DETERMINES THAT IT WOULD PROMOTE THE ADMIN- ISTRATION OF JUSTICE, HE OR SHE MAY ORDER SUCH TRANSFER, IN WHICH EVENT THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING SHALL BE TRANSFERRED TO THE COURT FOR VETERANS, ALL ORIGINATING PAPERS SHALL THEN BE SENT FROM THE ORIGINATING COURT TO THE COURT FOR VETERANS, AND ALL FURTHER PROCEEDINGS SHALL BE CONDUCTED THEREIN. IF THE JUSTICE OR JUDGE DETERMINES THAT A TRANSFER OF THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING WOULD NOT PROMOTE THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE, HE OR SHE SHALL NOTIFY THE LOCAL CRIMINAL COURT OR OTHER COURT FROM WHICH THE REFERENCE WAS RECEIVED OF SUCH DETERMINATION, WHEREUPON ALL FURTHER PROCEEDINGS IN SUCH ACTION OR PROCEEDINGS SHALL BE CONDUCTED IN ACCORD- ANCE WITH LAW. 2. TRANSFER OF CASES PENDING IN SUPERIOR COURTS. (A) AT ANY TIME WHILE A CRIMINAL ACTION OR PROCEEDING IS PENDING IN A SUPERIOR COURT IN A COUNTY IN WHICH A COURT FOR VETERANS HAS BEEN ESTABLISHED OR A SUPERIOR COURT IN ANOTHER COUNTY WITHIN THE JUDICIAL DISTRICT, INCLUDING A PROCEEDING BROUGHT AGAINST A DEFENDANT FOR THE VIOLATION OF A CONDITION OF A SENTENCE OF PROBATION OR A SENTENCE OF CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE, A JUDGE OR JUSTICE OF THE COURT IN WHICH THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING IS PEND- ING MAY, UPON MOTION OF THE DEFENDANT AND WITH THE CONSENT OF THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY, CAUSE COPIES OF PAPERS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS FILED IN SUCH COURT IN CONNECTION WITH THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING TO BE SENT TO THE JUDGE OR JUSTICE PRESIDING IN THE COURT FOR VETERANS FOR REVIEW OF THE APPROPRIATENESS OF THE TRANSFER. (B) NOT LATER THAN FIVE BUSINESS DAYS FOLLOWING THE RECEIPT OF THE PAPERS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS, THE JUDGE OR JUSTICE PRESIDING IN THE COURT FOR VETERANS SHALL DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT A TRANSFER OF THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING TO THE COURT WOULD PROMOTE THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. IF SUCH JUDGE OR JUSTICE DETERMINES THAT TRANSFER WOULD PROMOTE THE ADMIN- ISTRATION OF JUSTICE: (I) HE OR SHE, IF SITTING IN SUPREME COURT, MAY ORDER SUCH TRANSFER, IN WHICH EVENT THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING SHALL BE REFERRED FOR DISPOSI- TION TO THE COURT FOR VETERANS, ALL ORIGINAL PAPERS SHALL BE SENT TO THE COURT FOR VETERANS, AND ALL FURTHER PROCEEDINGS IN SUCH ACTION OR PROCEEDING SHALL BE CONDUCTED THEREIN; OR (II) HE OR SHE, IF SITTING IN COUNTY COURT, SHALL SO NOTIFY THE JUSTICE OF THE COURT WHO CAUSED THE PAPERS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS TO BE SENT TO HIM OR HER, AND SUCH JUSTICE MAY THEREUPON ORDER SUCH TRANSFER, IN WHICH EVENT THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING SHALL BE REFERRED FOR DISPOSI- TION TO THE COURT FOR VETERANS, ALL ORIGINAL PAPERS SHALL BE SENT FROM THE ORIGINATING COURT TO THE COURT FOR VETERANS, AND ALL FURTHER PROCEEDINGS IN SUCH ACTION OR PROCEEDING SHALL BE CONDUCTED THEREIN. IF THE JUDGE OR JUSTICE PRESIDING IN THE COURT FOR VETERANS DETERMINES THAT A TRANSFER OF THE ACTION OR PROCEEDING WOULD NOT PROMOTE THE ADMINIS- TRATION OF JUSTICE, HE OR SHE SHALL NOTIFY THE ORIGINATING COURT OF SUCH
DETERMINATION, WHEREUPON ALL FURTHER PROCEEDINGS IN SUCH ACTION OR PROCEEDING SHALL BE CONDUCTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW. S 178-C. PROCEDURE IN A COURT FOR VETERANS UPON TRANSFER OF CASE THER- ETO. EACH ACTION OR PROCEEDING TRANSFERRED TO A COURT FOR VETERANS SHALL BE SUBJECT TO THE SAME SUBSTANTIVE AND PROCEDURAL LAW AS WOULD HAVE APPLIED TO IT HAD IT NOT BEEN TRANSFERRED. S 2. This act shall take effect on the first of January next succeed- ing the date on which it shall have become a law.

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