Accountability Courts Recognized as Models for Georgia
The Cobb County Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court and the Cobb County Family Treatment Court have both been selected as Model Courts by the Council of Accountability Court Judges for 2021 – 2024. The honor was bestowed on these Courts for their commitment to Georgia’s Accountability Court Standards. Model Courts serve as a resource to other Georgia accountability courts in need of programmatic and technical assistance.
In addition, retired Marine Sergeant Major Ernie Hines, who has served as Mentor Coordinator for Cobb’s Veterans Court since its creation, was awarded the 2021 STAR Award by the Council of Accountability Court Judges in recognition of his excellence and long-standing dedication to the program.
Judge Tain Kell, who presides over Veterans Court, said he is “extraordinarily proud of the Sergeant Major.”
“The entire Veterans Court team is incredible, and we are thrilled to be recognized as a model court,” Judge Kell said.
Cobb’s Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court (VATC) serves veterans facing criminal charges by providing treatment and other support to help return participants to productivity rather than remain incarcerated. During the program, each participant is paired with an honorably discharged veteran through the VATC Mentor Program. Cobb’s VATC was established in 2014 and has graduated more than 50 participants. With the designation as a Model Court, VATC will continue to improve the lives of local veteran participants. Judge Kell is pictured with VATC Case Manager Ramona Burkett (left) and Coordinator Katelyn Parker.
Cobb’s Family Treatment Court (FTC) operates within Juvenile Court and serves parents with substance-use disorders who have lost custody of their children. FTC manages and monitors the parents’ progress through a five-phase program over a minimum of 19 months. Staff of the FTC, its treatment providers, the Department of Family and Children Services, and the Court collaborate toward securing and ensuring safe, stable and reunified families. The FTC program saves taxpayer dollars by decreasing the time children are in foster care and increasing permanency outcomes with healthy, drug-free, reunified families. Cobb’s FTC program began in 2006 and has served more than 130 graduates.
Judge Jeffrey Hamby presides over FTC. “The team is highly trained, knowledgeable, compassionate, and truly trying to help these parents,” Judge Hamby said. “Together with the therapists and community partners, they make my job easy: show some tough love, provide a structured regimen for success, sanction when necessary, and let folks know that the team really cares.”
Superior Court Chief Judge Robert Leonard said, “I am proud of the hard work of the entire Veterans and Family Treatment Court teams. This award is a testament to their continuous dedication to excellence in all they do.”
Both the Veterans Accountability and Treatment Court and the Family Treatment Court are proud to be named as Model Courts for exhibiting excellence in both programmatic management and for the positive outcomes achieved by participants.
Christopher Hansard, Superior Court Administrator