New Veterans Treatment Court begins operation

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State Court Judge Jason Thompson. Photo/Submitted.
State Court Judge Jason Thompson. Photo/Submitted.

After the implementation of the Griffin Judicial Circuit’s first DUI Court in 2016, State Court Judge Jason Thompson believes 2020 will be a busy year for the judicial circuit’s newest court, Veterans Treatment Court.

Judge Thompson said the first Veterans Treatment Court session was held in January. To qualify, participants must be a former service member of any branch of the United States military with a case currently pending in Fayette County State Court or a transferring court.

Judge Thompson will preside over the new court twice a month and work with the Veterans Treatment Court team to gauge each veteran’s progress. The team will include a veteran mentor that is paired with the participant to work with them each step of the way through the program.

The Veterans Treatment Court is starting off small. More than 50 graduates of the DUI/Drug Court program have successfully completed the program since 2016, with Judge Thompson saying he hopes for the same success with Veterans Treatment Court.

“The DUI/Drug Court program has blossomed this year and there are more participants than ever,” Judge Thompson said. “The Council of Accountability Court Judges completed a peer review of the DUI/Drug Court in 2019 and the review was outstanding.”

Additionally, there have been several students that “shadowed” Judge Thompson for the day.  These students meet with Judge Thompson before the court session and then observe the court proceedings.  After the hearings or trials, Judge Thompson meets with the students to discuss the legal proceedings.

In an effort to visit with as many students as possible, Judge Thompson said he continues to visit every school in Fayette County. Whether it was an elementary, middle, or high school, Judge Thompson has a program that he brings to all levels of education. With the younger students, he discusses the roles of the judiciary and the branches of the government.

In the middle schools and high schools, he uses his “Actions and Consequences” program to let students know the perils they face if they make poor choices.

Judge Thompson in 2019 opened up the courtroom for students from Counterpane Montessori to participate in a mock trial that they created. In other efforts, he presided over a mock trial over “The Tell-Tale Heart” at Whitewater Middle School, the Laws of Life Essay contest for the Peachtree City Rotary Club, and the Most Improved 5th-Grade Student Awards for the Metro Fayette Kiwanis Club.   Judge Thompson also volunteered for the Georgia High School Mock Trial Program.

Beyond those endeavors, the judge also hosted the Leadership Fayette “Judicial Day” for the Chamber of Commerce as well as spoke to local community organizations. Judge Thompson also provided internship opportunities for students. The high school, college and law school interns that worked in State Court were also recognized by the Board of Commissioners.

If any student is interested in internships or “shadowing” opportunities, please contact Toni Tumlin at 770-716-4270 or ttumlin@fayettecountyga.gov  If any organization is interested in learning more about the new DUI/Drug Court or the Veterans Treatment Court, please contact Martha Hall at 770-716-4328 or mhall@fayettecountyga.gov to schedule an opportunity for Judge Thompson to speak at your next meeting.

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