51 year-old David Munden became the first veteran enrolled in the La Paz County Veterans’ Treatment Court in the court’s first session Thursday.
Mr. Munden, a veteran of the United States Coast Guard, was charged with multiple domestic violence offenses for an incident that happened in December 2015. Munden pleaded guilty to a single charge on January 4, 2016. By agreement, Mr. Munden was placed on probation and assigned to the veterans court. All other charges were dismissed.
Judge James Putz-Artrup made brief opening comments, recognizing Joan McCarthy, the Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist (VJO), who will commute bi-weekly from Phoenix to the court to help local veterans connect with needed services through the VA. Many of the veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders.
When the judge called the case, rather than the defendant taking a seat at the table as usually happens when a criminal case is called, Mr. Munden came forward to stand before the judge with his mentor, another veteran, at his side. Without being directed to do so, both men stood at attention before the court. The judge began by thanking both men for their service, put them at the ‘at ease,’ position (a military term) and reached down from the bench to shake hands with the defendant. Then the judge went over ‘orders’ with the defendant, including specific things he was going to be required to do to successfully complete the veterans court, and the timeframe for the next court appearance.
The victim is pleased with the outcome of the case and glad that Mr. Munden was accepted into the Veterans’ Treatment Court.
The special court will provide support and services to veterans charged with misdemeanor offenses to help them resolve their criminal issues while receiving mental health and other services offered by the VA to help them resolve issues such as PTSD, which, according to VJO McCarthy, is very often connected to the criminal offenses.
The court convenes bi-weekly at the Parker Justice Courthouse.