A SPECIALIZED DOCKET
                    SERVING THE NEEDS OF
                   UNITED STATES VETERANS


           The Honorable Ethna M. Cooper

                  Participant Handbook
                    Guidelines and Program
Welcome to Hamilton County Common                          Page 3
Pleas Veterans Treatment Court
What is Veterans Treatment Court                           Page 4
What’s in it for me?                                      Page 5-6
Rules of Veterans Treatment Court                         Page 7-8
Phases of Program / Graduation                            Page 9-11
Treatment Team                                             Page 12
Participant Contract                                      Attached

                 For more information contact:

                              Kieran Hurley, Esq.
                             Program Coordinator
                        Hamilton County Common Pleas
                           Veterans Treatment Court
                         909 Sycamore Street, 4th Floor
                          Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-1306
                                (513) 618-4215
                              Fax: (513) 352-1345

                                  Welcome to the
                           Hamilton County Common Pleas
                             Veterans Treatment Court

This handbook is designed to:

1.     Answer questions

2.     Address concerns

3.     Provide information about Veterans Treatment Court

       This program can help you with benefits, treatment, and housing. It can also help
       you reconnect with family, employment, and meaningful relationships.
       Participants in Veterans Treatment Court must follow the instructions of the
       Judge and follow the treatment plan developed by the treatment team. This
       handbook explains what is expected of you. It also provides program
       information. If you are thinking about Veterans Treatment Court, your
       acceptance is based on your treatment needs and problems with the law. We will
       ask you about your willingness to participate in treatment for trauma, substance
       use, and mental health care.

                 Ask your Defense Attorney or Kieran Hurley,
                Program Coordinator, to explain to you anything
                  in this handbook that you do not understand.

                      What is Hamilton County Common Pleas
                            Veterans Treatment Court?
Veterans Treatment Court is a court-supervised treatment program whose goal is to help you
address the issues that led to contact with the criminal justice system. The program is voluntary
and includes regular court appearances before a Veterans Treatment Court Judge.

The Veterans Treatment Court Judge supervises your progress in the program. A final decision
of acceptance to the program is made by the Judge with the help of the treatment team.

Key Components of the Veterans Court:

    Ensure that Veterans receive effective treatment and access to community resources
     available to him or her.

    An individual treatment plan for each participant to address needs, barriers and goals.
     The treatment plan will include evaluations and assessments to determine the most
     effective treatment for the Veteran.

    Each Veteran has a support team dedicated to helping the Veteran achieve their goals. The
     support team includes other Veterans, treatment providers, Court staff, and the Veteran Peer
     Mentor Support Program.

    Each Veteran will come to court regularly to see the Honorable Judge Ethna M. Cooper.
     Veterans are required to appear weekly or bi-weekly during the initial phase of the
     program. Veterans will be required to appear less often as they progresses through the
     program. As you make progress in your treatment, your attendance may be reduced to
     every third week or monthly at the discretion of the Judge.

    Frequent random alcohol & drug testing throughout the program (may be ordered through
     probation and/or treatment providers).

    Veterans must follow the rules of Probation and orders of the Veterans Treatment Court.

What do I have to do?
Participants are required to sign a contract in court. The contract is an agreement between you
and the Judge. The contract explains what is expected of you and the consequences for
noncompliance. Before you sign the contract, you will review it with your Defense Attorney and
have any additional questions answered or clarified.

                               What’s in it for me?

A New Beginning
Joining the Veterans Treatment Court means that you want to improve your life. You
will work closely with the Treatment Team and Judge to achieve your goals. Veterans
Treatment Court provides a treatment centered atmosphere and works with Veterans to
address their individual needs. If you take advantage of the assistance offered you will
discover many ways to make a better life for yourself.

Veteran Peer Mentoring Program
The Veterans Treatment Court relies on cooperation between the criminal justice system, the
Department of Veterans Affairs and community treatment agencies to provide comprehensive
treatment for Veterans. The Court also relies on a unique component - Veteran Peer Mentors.
Veteran Peer Mentors are part of the Court’s team and provide advice, personal experiences,
recommendations and guidance to participants of the Court.

These volunteers include, but are not limited to, Veterans who have served in Vietnam, Korea,
Operation Desert Storm/Shield, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
These men and women volunteer their time to work with our participants.

The mission of the Peer Mentoring Program is to ensure that every Veteran receives the services
they need by helping them navigate the system and acting as a mentor, advocate, and ally.

Recognition of Compliance and Success

Veterans Treatment Court acknowledges success and offers incentives in the following
          Encouragement and praise from the judge;
          Ceremonies and tokens of progress, including advancement in specialized docket
          Reducing supervision contacts;
          Decreasing frequency of court appearances;
          Reducing fines or fees;
          Increasing or expanding privileges;
          Encouragement to increase participation in positive activities the participant finds
            pleasurable, such as writing, art work, or other positive hobbies;
          Assistance with purchasing clothing for job interviews;
          Gift cards for restaurants, movie theaters, recreational activities, or personal care
          Dismissing criminal charges or reducing the term of probation;
          Reducing or suspending jail or prison days;
          Graduating from the specialized docket.


Veterans Treatment Court provides you the opportunity to:

      Develop job skills;
      Connect to available services at the VA and other community resources;
      Rebuild family and community ties;
      Live a drug and crime free life;
      Access benefits;
      Engage in treatment rather than incarceration;
      Stabilize your living situation;
      Connect with Veteran Peers living in the community;
      Return to school; and/or
      Return to work.

How long will I be involved with the Veterans Treatment Court Program?
When you successfully complete all phases of treatment, you become eligible to graduate from
the program. Each person will work with treatment providers and the Court toward successful
completion of the program at their own pace. The program may last for the period of community
control but a Veteran, if committed and successful, may complete the program in as little as 15 to
18 months.

            Rules of Veterans Treatment Court – Graduated Sanction

To remain in Veterans Treatment Court, you are required to follow these rules:

1.     Stop the use of illegal, non-prescribed drugs. You are required to comply with regular
       drug testing. The Veterans Treatment Court Judge has access to all drug test results.
       Failure to provide a sample, submitting a sample of another individual, and
       adulterated samples will be deemed a positive test and immediately sanctioned.
       Although relapse may occur in recovery, a positive or "dirty" test will result in a
       court-imposed sanction.

2.     Appear in court as scheduled. You are required to appear in front of the Judge on a
       regular basis, as often as one time per week (during Phase 1). The Judge is given
       progress reports regarding your attendance and participation in your treatment programs.
       The Judge will ask you about your progress and discuss any problems you may be

3.     Follow your individualized treatment plan. You and the treatment team, following an
       assessment of your needs, will develop an initial treatment plan. This plan will guide
       your treatment. You set goals and create a plan to meet those goals. The plan is updated
       as you progress through the program.

4.     Attend all appointments with your case manager, treatment providers, probation officer,
       and support services. As part of your treatment plan you may be required to participate
       in counseling. Counseling may help with self-awareness, self-discipline, and coping
       mechanisms necessary to maintain a clean, sober, and productive lifestyle. You may be
       required to attend groups such as anger management, parenting, or any other area you or
       the treatment team identify as needed. Your attendance at counseling sessions is reported
       to the Judge as part of your progress report. You must have prior permission from your
       counselor to be excused from a counseling session.

5.     You are responsible for being at all appointments on time.

6.     Maintain compliance with medications as prescribed to you by your psychiatrist and/or
       primary physician.

7.     Follow the orders of the Judge and recommendations of the Veterans Treatment Court

8.     Follow the rules in the Participation Contract and with Hamilton County Probation.

Failure to comply with these rules, the Participant Contract, the orders of the Judge, or the
commission of a new criminal act will result in immediate and graduated sanctions and
may result in termination from the program.


1.     More frequent appearances before the Judge;
       2.     More frequent appearances before the probation department;
       3.     Increased testing of breath, blood or urine for drugs or alcohol;
       4.     Increased group and/or meeting attendance;
       5.     Verbal admonishment from the Judge;
       6.     Written reports;
       7.     Community service work;
       8.     One or multiple days seated in the courtroom;
       9.     Electronic Monitoring, (EMU);
       10.    Jail time;
       11.    Formal probation violation; and/or
       12.    Termination from the Veterans Treatment Court program

REMEMBER: Termination or voluntary withdrawal from Veterans Treatment Court will result
in sentencing on the charges to which you pled. This program is designed for individuals who
want to engage in treatment, stop the cycle of criminal behavior, and abstain from the use of
drugs. Your active participation in the process is essential to your success.

            Veterans Treatment Court Program Phases & Graduation
The Veterans Treatment Court has four phases lasting for a minimum of 15 to 18 months. Each
phase has treatment objectives, therapeutic and rehabilitative activities, and specific requirements
for advancement into the next phase. Your progress through the program is based upon your
individual performance in the treatment plan and compliance with the program phases.

Orientation - Introduction, assessment, and assimilation
              Length: a minimum of 30 days
During Orientation, you will be assigned a Probation Officer. Your attorney will provide you
with an overview of the program. Your needs will be assessed and addressed by the treatment
team. Your progress will be closely monitored by the treatment team and reported to the Judge.

Orientation Phase requirements may include:
       1.     Referral to VA or community treatment services for assessment to address
              substance use and/or behavioral health needs;
       2.     Regular and Random Drug testing;
       3.     Attendance at Veterans Treatment Court docket as often as one time per week.
       4.     Attendance at groups and/or self-help meetings, if applicable;
       5.     Reporting to your Probation Officer;
       6.     Identifying your goals (may include housing, treatment services, education or
              vocational training)
       7.     Formal admission to the program – sign contract and complete plea.

Phase I – Orientation Phase
         Length: a minimum of 90 days

In Phase I, your treatment plan will be developed by you and the Treatment Team. You will
make personal achievement goals in addition to treatment plan goals (GED,
vocational/educational, counseling, psychotherapy, exercise, anger management, parenting skills,
etc.) Phase I requirements include:
       1.       Involvement in treatment as directed;
       2.       Regular and Random Drug testing;
       3.       Taking medication as directed by medical and/or mental health professionals;
       4.       Attendance at all scheduled treatment appointments;
       5.       Reporting to your Probation Officer;
       6.       Formulation of personal goals with the assistance of the treatment team (GED,
                vocational/educational counseling, psychotherapy, exercise, anger management,
                parenting skills, etc.)
       7.       Weekly or bi-weekly court appearances as determined by the Veterans Treatment
                Court Judge.
       8.       Consistent financial payments to Probation as determined by the Court
       9.       Connection to an assigned Veteran Peer Mentor.

Phase II – Stabilization Phase
           Length: a minimum of 150 days

In Phase II, your treatment plan will be updated by you and the treatment team to identify your
treatment goals and objectives. Counseling and meetings will focus on areas that are challenging
for you, and will identify ways of coping with stressful situations. Phase II requirements

       1.     Establish and maintain treatment attendance and participation.
       2.     Submit to all drug testing
       3.     Attend all scheduled meeting with probation officer
       4.     Regular contact with Veteran Peer Mentor
       5.     Attend all scheduled Veterans Treatment Court dockets (bi-weekly or every three
       6.     Clean and sober recreation/fellowship
       7.     Ongoing review and updating of the treatment plan
       8.     Identify goals related to employment, education, benefits, community service,
              and/or healthy activities.
       9.     Consistent financial payments through Probation for any costs and/or restitution.
       10.    Strengthening relationship with Veteran Peer Mentor
       11.    Identify housing options if not already in place.

Phase III – Community Reintegration Phase
            Length: a minimum of 120 days

Phase III will address your ongoing recovery needs including maintaining abstinence from drugs.
This phase is designed to support you in your return to the community as a productive and
responsible member. Phase III requirements include:

       1.     Continued counseling and treatment services as directed
       2.     Submit to all drug testing
       3.     Attendance at self-help meetings and maintenance of a sponsor, if appropriate
       4.     Report to your Probation Officer as instructed
       5.     Maintain employment and/or progress toward an educational goal or community
       6.     Appear for all scheduled Veteran Treatment Court dockets as directed by the
              Judge (Required to attend 1 to 2 times per month).
       7.     Consistent financial payment to Probation, and other agencies as determined by
              the treatment team
       8.     Maintain safe and stable housing.
       9.     Update treatment goals to reflect progress.

Phase IV – Maintenance Phase/Graduation
            Length: a minimum of 120 days
Phase IV will help you successfully transition from a lifestyle within the Veterans Treatment
Court structure to a lifestyle more representative of what participants will experience following
graduation. Phase IV requirements include:

       1.     Continued counseling and treatment as directed
       2.     Drug tests conducted on a random basis or as directed by the Court
       3.     Maintain connection to self-help support if appropriate
       4.     Report to your Probation Officer as directed
       5.     Update treatment goals to address graduation and goals beyond this program.
       6.     Maintain full-time employment and/or actively pursue vocational/educational
              goals, or community service
       7.     Appear in court for progress reviews an average of one time per month
       8.     Continue established Peer Mentor relationship
       9.     Consistent financial payment to Probation to address any outstanding costs, fees
              or restitution.
       10.    Preparation of graduation application

When you complete the program phases, the Veterans Treatment Court will honor your
achievement at a graduation ceremony. This is an opportunity for our Veterans to be recognized
for their achievements and for the Veterans to acknowledge their families and loved ones.

                      Veterans Court Treatment Team

The Veterans Court Treatment Team is composed of a dedicated group of professionals who are
committed to your success in the program. Team members include:

Common Pleas Judge: The Judge will determine acceptance into the program, supervise
ongoing compliance with the treatment team, and make final determinations as to phase
advancement, sanctions, rewards, termination and graduation from the program.

Veterans Healthcare Administration: Provides residential and ongoing outpatient treatment to
qualified Veterans. Services may include treatment for PTSD, TBI, Substance Abuse, physical
health needs, and mental health needs. The Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist shall be the
primary treatment team contact between the Court and the Veterans Healthcare Administration.

Veterans Benefits Administration: Provides the treatment team with access to information
related to Veterans’ eligibility for services through the VA system and assists participants with
accessing benefits.

Hamilton County Adult Probation: Hamilton County Probation shall have designated
Probation Officers who will attend treatment meetings, court hearings, and be involved in the
creation and implementation of treatment and supervision plans.

Program Coordinator: The Program Coordinator will work in conjunction with all treatment
and criminal justice providers to assist with accessing resources, coordinating services and
managing the administration of the Docket.

Hamilton County Prosecutor
The Prosecutor reviews all referrals for legal eligibility and works closely with the Defense
Attorney, Judge, and service providers to monitor the progress of participants throughout all
phases of the program.

Hamilton County Public Defender / Defense Attorney
A participant may be represented by either a Public Defender or privately retained counsel.
Defense counsel will work collaboratively with the team and provide legal counsel to the
participant throughout the program.

Hamilton County Pre-Trial Services
Provides screening and engagement services to individuals processed through the Hamilton
County Justice Center. Pre-Trial staff provides initial connection to community services and
linkage to VA, Mental Health Court, Drug Court, and Veteran’s Treatment Court programs.

Volunteer Peer Mentor Coordinator
Responsible for training, supervising and maintaining the Veteran Peer Mentor Program.


PARTICIPANT:_______________________________                    Case No.:_____________________

DATE:          _________________________________               JUDGE ______________________

I agree to enter the Hamilton County Common Pleas Veterans Treatment Court. I understand
and agree that I have certain obligations and responsibilities and will have to follow orders from
the Judge, Treatment Team and others involved in the Veterans Treatment Court Program. The
defendant acknowledges that he/she consulted with his/her attorney regarding the legal
ramifications of entering into the Veterans Treatment Court Program and reviewed this
document with his/her attorney.


1.     I will report as directed by the Judge. I will keep appointments for:
       o Court
       o Treatment
       o Case Management
       o Probation
       o Support Groups
       o All other appointments ordered by the Court
       o I understand that I will appear before Probation Staff and the Veterans Treatment
           Court Judge on a regular basis with counsel to report on progress in the program and
           that I am subject to sanctions for failure to comply with the rules of the program.

2.     I will take my medication as prescribed. I must make the Veterans Treatment Court
       Treatment Team aware of all medications that I am prescribed.

3.     I will allow and cooperate with home visits from my probation officer, case manager and
       any other designated Veterans Treatment Court team member or designated

4.     I will obey all city, state and federal laws. If I take part in any criminal act, I may be
       revoked from Veterans Treatment Court. I will tell my Probation Officer immediately if
       I have any law enforcement contact. I understand that I am also required to follow all
       rules of Hamilton County Probation.

5.     I will not use any illegal drugs. I will submit to drug testing when instructed. I
       understand that if I fail to submit to a drug screen, tamper with the urine specimen, if the
       urine is diluted, or if I fail to provide a sufficient quantity of urine, I will be sanctioned as
       if the test provided was positive for illegal substances.

6.     I will talk to my Probation Officer and Case Manager before I make changes in address,
       phone number or employment.
7.     I will comply with all financial obligations, including restitution, fines, Court costs,
       probation service fees and child support as directed by my probation officer and/or the
       Veterans Treatment Court Judge.

8.     I will follow any rehabilitation, educational, vocational, medical, psychiatric, or
       substance abuse treatment program assigned by the Court.

9.     I will sign all releases of information needed by Veterans Treatment Court, treatment
       providers, VA, and other resource providers. I understand there is a purpose and need
       for the disclosure of information to inform the Veterans Treatment Court program of my
       attendance and progress in treatment. The extent of information to be disclosed will
       include, but not be limited to, my diagnosis, information about my attendance or lack of
       attendance at treatment sessions, my cooperation with treatment programs, my prognosis,
       and my drug and alcohol screens.

10.     I will cooperate and comply with my supervision plan and any subsequent or amended
supervision plans. The Veterans Treatment Court Judge will impose requirements on me at time
of sentencing or as sanctions for program violations. The participant understands that by entering
into the Veterans Treatment Court Program that he/she is waiving certain constitutionally-
guaranteed rights which he/she might otherwise be entitled. Those rights include, but are not
limited to:

               a.     Waiver of any objection to the Judge receiving communication regarding
                      participant’s treatment, progress and rules violations;
               b.     Waiver of the right to contest the results of drug and alcohol testing results
                      at review hearings; and
               c.     Waiver of the right to remain silent and not to incriminate himself/herself
                      at the review hearings regarding violations of the rules of the Veterans
                      Treatment Court Program.
               d.     Waiver of the right to freely associate with other persons who, in the sole
                      discretion of the Court, interfere with or impede the recovery of the

11.    I understand that immediate action may be taken before the weekly staffing if I:
       o Don’t keep an appointment ordered by the Court (unexcused absences).
       o Don’t comply with instructions from treatment providers or Veterans Treatment
           Court team members.
       o Test positive for any non-prescribed drugs.
       o Violate court orders or break the law.

12.    The participant shall be subject to sanctions which may be imposed by the Court in
       furtherance of treatment. Sanctions shall be imposed by the Court as a result of non-
       compliance or a rule violation by the participant. The participant is aware that the Court
       will be alerted to all such infractions. Sanctions may range in severity depending on the
       seriousness of the participant’s non-compliance or rule violation. Sanctions may include,
       but are not limited to:

             1.      More frequent appearances before the Judge;
             2.      More frequent appearances before the probation department;
             10.     Increased testing of breath, blood or urine for drugs or alcohol;
             11.     Increased group and/or meeting attendance;
             12.     Verbal admonishment from the Judge;
             13.     Written reports;
             14.     Community service work;
             15.     One or multiple days seated in the courtroom;
             16.     Electronic Monitoring, (EMU);
             10.     Jail time;
             11.     Termination from the Veterans Treatment Court program; and/or
             12.     Formal probation violation.

13.   I will cooperate with all treatment and services outlined in my Veterans Treatment Court
      treatment plan and any subsequent or amended treatment plans.

14.   I understand that the length of the program is determined by my progress and compliance
      with program guidelines, rules and conditions. I must successfully complete all phases of
      the program in order to complete and graduate from the program.

15.   When I am in the court room I will dress and act appropriately. I will be on time for

16.   I will be supervised by the Veterans Treatment Court Program UNTIL FURTHER

17.   I have received and read the Participant Handbook. I fully understand the requirements
      of participation in the Veterans Treatment Court and have had an opportunity to ask
      questions of my defense attorney.

18.   I agree to the special conditions as follows:



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