Cameron County creates "veterans court" for some cases

Cameron County DA Luis Sanez and prosecutor Evan Robbins

Cameron County officials are creating a special "veterans court" to both punish and help those who come home from war and find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Figures show that more than 19,500 veterans live in Cameron County alone.

But some of them returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had trouble readjusting to civilian life finding themselves in a cycle of substance abuse and domestic violence.

Judge David Sanchez with the 444th State District Court stepped forward offering his court to hear cases involving veterans.

Texas state law authorizes veterans courts to administer both punishment and mental help for qualifying individuals.

Cameron County District Attorney Luis Saenz said that has appointed a special prosecutor and a court-appointed defense attorney for veterans court.

Although cases such as murder, sexual assault and drug trafficking will go to regular courts, veterans court will oversee DWIs, domestic violence, substance abuse and other crimes.

Cameron County Commissioner Dan Sanchez said officials are seeking grant funding for the court but the county will pick up the tab for now.