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The articles in this issue of The Judges’ Journal consider the U.S. justice system’s obligations to those who have sacrificed so much for our country and offer practical ways to connect veterans with the legal services they are entitled to. Veterans often face legal problems while they are away serving or after they return home; the tools provided here can help judges protect the rights of our veterans.
The ABA Veterans Legal Services Commission is a 20-member initiative that aims to mobilize lawyers to ensure that veterans receive the legal assistance they deserve. The commission also promotes veterans treatment courts as an alternative to the criminal justice system due to their proven effectiveness and success in reducing recidivism.
This brief history of the ever-changing, 14-year-old Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, created to protect the rights of members of the armed forces, provides an explanation of how the act may impact court proceedings and looks at ways the act could be improved.
Veterans treatment courts provide an unconventional solution to reducing recidivism. In the last eight years, these courts have expanded across the country and have implemented a number of successful models. The flexibility of the different models allow for each court to reach a specific target of the population. Due to the success of the courts, thousands of military veterans are not incarcerated, but are instead rehabilitated.
The division of reserve retirement pay pursuant to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act requires different calculations than the division of an active-duty military retirement. In addition, there are some fairly recent and on-the-horizon legislative provisions that can alter the portion of retirement awarded to the former spouse.
Since 2013, Emory Law’s Volunteer Clinic for Veterans (VCV) has taken on about 160 cases and recovered $4.75 million in benefits for Atlanta metropolitan area veterans. The VCV began as a no-cost clinic and is now a low-cost clinic. The symbiotic propositions of aiding veterans, training law students with real cases, and offering local legal professionals volunteer opportunities and veterans and military law education make the VCV a model for other schools across the nation.
Existing financial literacy programs fail to adequately educate military service members and their families, as can be seen in this profile of a Massachusetts bankruptcy attorney who gathered other bankruptcy attorneys in an effort to address this need, along with the demand for affordable legal assistance.
Judge Herbert Dixon reports on a recent special report to the president by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which causes him to revisit the subject of his technology column written seven years about the state of forensic sciences.
States have taken a variety of stances on whether a sitting judge can both practice law and serve as an advocate on the JAG corps. Some states maintain that there is a conflict if a judge provides services to military members that resemble those of civilian lawyers, while other states hold that judges should not be limited in their scope of military assignments.