On October 28th, Judge Eleanor C. Sinnott addressed the members of the Boston Bar Association’s Public Interest Leadership Program (PILP). A former Navy officer, Judge Sinnott presides over Boston’s Veterans Treatment Court session in the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse, which launched in the spring of 2014. Designed to help treat military veterans arrested for crimes linked to trauma caused by their service, this is the first veterans court in Suffolk County and the second in the state..
Boston’s Veterans Treatment Court is available to members of the U.S. Armed Forces who face service-connected misdemeanor or felony charges in Suffolk County, and who have a service-related mental health issue, substance abuse problem, or other co-occurring disorders. The Veterans Treatment Court model requires regular court appearances, mandatory attendance at treatment sessions, and frequent and random testing for substance use (drug and/or alcohol). Judge Sinnott noted that Veterans respond favorably to this structured environment given their past experiences in the Armed Forces.
PILP member Michael B. Homer of Ropes & Gray LLP observed, “Having launched the Boston Veterans Treatment Court, Judge Sinnott was able to provide unique insight into the need for these specialty courts and the challenges such courts face. It was very encouraging to hear Judge Sinnott explain how, despite these challenges, her court is able to provide desperately needed services, mentoring, and an alternative to incarceration to those veterans whose criminal behavior is linked to service-related trauma.”
The collaborative multidisciplinary approach to rehabilitation that this court undertakes includes the judge, prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, probation officers and medical treatment providers from the VA and other community –based treatment providers. Together with the veteran and a special veteran peer mentor, rigorous treatment and probation plans are put into place, enabling the veteran to focus on sobriety, recovery and stability.
As the country turns its attention to veterans in preparation for observance of Veterans Day next week, we are grateful for the dedicated team in the Veterans Treatment Court, working to connect men and women with service-related criminal issues to the services and stability they so desperately need.
The BBA will be bringing together its own community of attorney-veterans for a special Veterans Day Reception at 16 Beacon Street on Thursday, November 12, 2015, at 5:00PM, hosted by veterans Bill Sinnott of Donoghue Barrett & Singal, P.C. and John “Jack” Regan of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. The welcome address will be delivered by Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA-6). If you would like to join us, please email Katie D’Angelo at [email protected] .