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Southeast Valley cities planning veterans-only court

PHOENIX -- Veterans who find themselves in legal trouble could soon find more support in Mesa, Chandler and Gilbert.

The municipal courts in those three cities are working with the Veterans Administration (VA) to offer special programs for veterans facing traffic charges and misdemeanors, to include some assaults, DUI and domestic violence.

"It's really about trying to be effective and affect defendants and individuals in such a way that they don't re-offend," said Paul Thomas, court administrator with Mesa Municipal Court. "And part of that is getting them the right kind of assistance and counseling and management to get them back on track."

Thomas said the VA will assign a coordinator to work with veterans to address underlying issues that may have led to their arrests. The Southeast Valley communities could model the program after the Phoenix Veterans Court which launched last year.

While there is no official start date, Thomas hopes to hold a training session this summer for prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and others who will be involved.

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