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KINGS COUNTY CRIMINAL COURT CELEBRATES OPENING OF BROOKLYN MISDEMEANOR VETERANS TREATMENT COURT

From left to right: Cameron Mease, Staff Attorney & Veterans Defense Coordinator, Brooklyn Defender Services; Dawn Ryan, Attorney In Charge, Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Criminal Defense Office; Mia Santiago, STEP/MBTC Project Director, Criminal Court of New York City (Brooklyn); Martina Parauda, Director, VA, NY Harbor Health Care System; Hon. Melissa C. Jackson, Administrative Judge, Criminal Court of New York City; Hon. Craig S. Walker, Presiding Judge of BMVTC; Representative from the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs; Hon. Michael J. Yavinsky, Supervising Judge, Kings County Criminal Court.

On November 18, 2015, lawyers, judges, court staff and social service providers convened to celebrate the opening of the Brooklyn Misdemeanor Veterans Treatment Court (BMVTC). The court connects veterans charged in low-level misdemeanor cases to social service providers including the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A veteran’s successful completion of treatment results in non-criminal dispositions and case dismissals.

BDS Staff Attorney and Veterans Defense Coordinator Cameron Mease, who testified recently on veterans in the criminal justice system, spoke at the event:

“Veterans, while strong, can still be vulnerable and while independent, are still deserving of our support. With greater numbers of veterans being identified and given special attention by the courts, BDS is accordingly expanding in-house services. Our team of social workers, paralegals, immigration attorneys and housing and benefits attorneys will continue to learn how we can best connect our veteran clients with the services they want and deserve.”