For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 22

assets in establishing the program. Pennsylvania
House Bill 887 was referred to the Committee on
Judiciary on March 16, 2017. If passed, it would
mandate all counties to develop and maintain a
Veterans Court.32 The bill as drafted contemplates
the payment of fees to the program by the
participants to fund the program. This would
preclude participation of most indigent
defendants as these fees would be over and
above the costs and fees associated with criminal
convictions.33
Despite the growing pains the Erie Veterans
Court has experienced, it has helped many
to restore their dignity and self-worth. On
Halloween of 2017, a Veterans Court participant
failed to appear for court; only arriving after
everyone had left. There were concerns that he
had used and he admitted that he thought about
leaving and disappearing. He disclosed an event
which occurred during his deployment that he
said he saw as vividly as he saw those sitting next
to him. The event described lead everyone sitting
with him to conclude that he had PTSD. The VJO
later confirmed that this was a new disclosure.
Without that disclosure, he had not been fully
assessed for services and was probably not
receiving all the services he needed.
During the disclosure to a small group of
court personnel, he said that he was once an
honorable man. If this program can help veterans

like him see that they are still honorable men
and women the effort will be worth the while.
At that point, he asked to be incarcerated as he
believed he would use. The Judge honored his
request and he was incarcerated until the Erie
Veterans Affairs Medical Center formulated a
new plan to deliver services, including the vetting
of his disclosure.
Unfortunately, Erie Veterans Court was
unable to assist him in seeing that he was still
an honorable man. This veteran passed away
on November 28, 2017 from an overdose which
occurred on Thanksgiving Day. When the
team was told of his passing, there were many
emotions and questions: were all opportunities
afforded to this man, were all possible services
and supports provided, and what could the team
have done differently.
It is perhaps the best lesson of Veterans
Court or any Treatment Court for that matter,
participation is only an opportunity. Success or
failure falls upon the participant and what is
made of the opportunity. It does not eliminate
the questions asked after this incident nor does
it eliminate the sorrow felt for his passing but it
can and will be used as a device to assist future
participants.
PANTONE

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About the Author
Patricia Kennedy is the Chief Public Defender of Erie County, Pennsylvania
being appointed Interim Chief Public Defender in 2010 and made permanent
Chief Public Defender in 2011. Attorney Kennedy has worked for the
citizens of Erie County for the 22 years as both an Assistant Public Defender
and an Assistant District Attorney. In those roles, she has been an active
member of the Erie County Treatment Courts and the recently established
Erie County Veterans Court. Attorney Kennedy is a former member of the
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Committee on Juvenile Court Procedure.
Attorney Kennedy is a 1985 graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania
and a 1988 graduate of the Dickinson School of Law.

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22

For The Defense

l

Vol. 3, Issue 1



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018

Contents
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 1
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 2
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - Contents
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 4
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 5
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 6
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 7
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 8
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 9
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 10
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 11
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 12
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 13
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 14
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 15
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 16
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 17
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 18
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 19
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 20
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 21
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 22
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 23
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 24
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 25
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 26
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 27
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 28
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 29
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 30
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 31
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 32
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 33
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 34
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 35
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For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 37
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For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 40
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For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 42
For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 43
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For the Defense - Volume 3, Issue 1 - 2018 - 56
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