The phrase “a jury of your peers” is often employed in the criminal justice system to describe a group hearing a court case that could have very little in common with the person for which they’ll render a judgment. In Baltimore’s Veterans Treatment Court, the opposite is true.
Judge Halee Weinstein resides over the court, the subject of this week’s cover story by Susan C. Ingram, where veterans charged with certain offenses go through a sort of rehabilitation process with help from various nonprofits, government agencies and, of course, their fellow vets. Weinstein, the daughter of an Army intelligence chief with 33 years of service, takes the cases of her fellow veterans with special care.
After she became judge-in-charge at Baltimore’s Eastside District Court, she noticed some patterns among the veterans that came through her courthouse — drug use, homelessness and unemployment. She decided to start a veterans docket “because veterans like to be with veterans. We understand each other, we feel most comfortable with each other,” she told the JT.
Two Tuesdays a month, Weinstein’s courtroom helps vets turn their lives around with services that include everything from service dogs to job training to legal aid. And it works.
“This court saved me from going downhill,” Navy veteran Eric Brown, who wound up in court on a misdemeanor drug charge, said.
“I can’t tell you how much of a blessing — it’s been huge,” said Army vet Jonathan Goff, who found himself in Weinstein’s court after stealing a friend’s car while he was homeless and using painkillers.
In other news, the Jewish community is keeping its eyes on Annapolis as Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed security funding to help institutions that are potential targets of hate crimes, and the Baltimore Jewish Council recently testified on one bill that would strengthen hate crime laws, as Connor Graham reports. There’s more to come on that front, and the BJC also expects a bill to be introduced that would require schools teach about the Holocaust and genocide.
With International Holocaust Remembrance Day this Sunday, Beth El Congregation and Landmark Theatres in Harbor East are just two of hundreds of worldwide screenings of the new documentary “Who Will Write Our History,” about a group of journalists who fought the Nazis with the written word. As Beth El event organizer Hana Bor said, “It’s a must-see documentary.”