By Mike Kruzman /

One of Livingston County’s specialty courts has been certified by the State Court Administrator's Office.

Veteran’s Treatment Court is a specialty court docket that runs twice a month by District Court Judge Shauna Murphy. It helps those who have served our country but now find themselves in the criminal justice system, while also offering a unique support system for those who find themselves struggling with substance abuse and/or mental health disorders.

Three years ago the SCAO put a certification process in place as a mechanism to make sure that specialty courts were operating at the highest of standards. Earlier this month, this recognition was awarded to the Veterans Court.

Livingston County Specialty Courts and Programs Administrator Sarah Applegate says the process started back in January with a visit from two SCAO analysts who conducted interviews with team members, reviewed documents, and observed hearings. She continued to work with them through the certification process and delays caused due to COVID. The certification, again, means they uphold the highest standards and meet all statutory requirements. It also keeps them eligible for grant funding through the SCAO.

The court’s budget, funded through grants, is roughly $33,000 per year. Applegate says they have seen a large need for the Veterans Court’s services and support during the pandemic, and have seen a 90% increase in referrals since opening referrals back up in June.