STATE v. J.R.
Our client is a USMC hero, with three tours of duty in Fallujah, Iraq, where he and his unit fought house to house and freed the local citizens from the tyranny of the Taliban. He fought alongside his Marine ‘buddy' where they saw unimaginable horrors of war. Their vehicles were hit with IEDs several times and our client once scooped the body parts of his commanding officer into a body bag while taking sniper fire. Understandably he returned from Iraq to Maine with severe PTSD and could not reengage in civilian life.
He was charged with Robbery with the Use of a Firearm, a class A felony. He faced a maximum sentence of 30 years and a fine of up to $50,000. The State was rightly determined to punish him and his codefendant. At the same time the judicial system was determined to give returning veterans experiencing PTSD and substance abuse issues a second chance if they would submit to rigorous rehabilitation through the newly established Veteran's Court operating in Augusta.
We learned of this new rehabilitation opportunity and arranged meetings with the team to determine whether our client might be a good candidate for the program. Justice Mills graciously granted us full access to her and the entire team, all the while stressing the urgent responsibilities our client would bear if he were accepted into the program. The program is compassionate, yet tough and rigorous. Only the strong-willed need apply. We contended with the local prosecutor, whose office was not acquainted with this program's details. To succeed we had to convince them to give up the prosecution of this case to their fellow prosecutors in another county.
Our client was afraid to be with other people, suffered anxiety, and was depressed to the point he could not get out of bed in the morning to face the day, or make his medical and therapy appointments. Our task became not only alleviating his criminal penalties, but also fully engaging him in his therapy sessions. He was denied admission into the program because his anxiety and depression did not allow him to show his determination to heal himself.
Another long slog handling these issues finally resulted in a successful admission after a legal battle concerning his right to a second team review. We were at his side at every step of the way for over 18 months. The results: a six month sentence in the veteran's pod at the Kennebunk County Jail, with credit for time served. He will serve only 3 months. Successful enrollment and participation in VA therapeutic services. Placement in a job at the VA. Housing in a special Veteran's Home. And an opportunity to learn, grow and heal in the difficult year-long Veteran's Court rehabilitation program. If he succeeds, he will emerge a happy, productive citizen.
At the same time we assisted him with an amicable divorce. He won the opportunity to remain very involved in his young child's life. She will benefit. He will benefit. Please pray with us for his success.