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December 31, 2009

Veterans Get Specialized Courts

Daily Journal | By Don J. DeBenedictis


SANTA ANA - In Orange County Superior Court Judge Wendy S. Lindley's cozy courtroom, even the holding cage isn't too bad, according to a man who's been in it.

That fellow, Christopher J. Goff, said he actually looks forward to coming to court for his bi-weekly probation status reports.

Goff is one of about two dozen combat veterans with serious criminal law problems who appear Tuesday afternoons for Lindley's special veterans court calendar, where even those still-jailed offenders locked in the cage are more likely to hear encouragement than disapproval.

Lindley runs one of the country's small but growing number of special courts just for veterans, and one of only two - both in California - that accept those charged with violent felonies. One of the newest forms of "collaborative courts," these dockets strive to ensure veterans on probation get into and stay involved in psychological and substance-abuse treatment, find housing and obtain education.

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