The County Attorney's Office is fortunate to have employees who understand the impact of their work, know the issues our communities are facing, and, when given an opportunity, step up to help.
Last month, MCAO prosecutors Denise O'Rourke, Frank Woods, Aaron Harder, Jason Kalish, and Suri Reddy volunteered at the 2022 Maricopa County StandDown. An annual event organized by the Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance, a program of the Arizona Housing Coalition, the Maricopa County StandDown is the largest outreach event of its kind in the nation. The event allows veterans and their families who may be at risk of or experiencing homelessness to get support and stay connected to services.
One of the many services offered at the StandDown was Court and Legal Services. The event brought together legal professionals to help veterans resolve outstanding misdemeanors, non-victim, non-DUI cases, and certain simple drug possession cases that can resolve with misdemeanor pleas. The parties also work to try and lower any fines/fees these Veterans owe and research old convictions to determine whether they can be designated as misdemeanors. Without the burden of owing large sums of money or having a felony conviction, these Veterans can improve their well-being by getting a job, finding a place to stay, and becoming productive members of society. The event provides a non-imposing atmosphere to help these veterans resolve their outstanding cases.
MCAO volunteers handled the cases and covered the courts at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The office participates annually in this event and helps resolve outstanding minor criminal matters pending against veterans in Maricopa County and supports Veterans Court as part of our Maricopa County Superior Court. Municipal and Superior Court judges are also present to resolve cases on-site. Before the event, veterans check-in and are screened for eligibility, which determines whether they have any warrants or pending criminal matters that need to be resolved. Intake workers forward information about the veterans to the County Attorney's Office if they find pending criminal matters.
With MCAO's help, hundreds of felony and misdemeanor cases were resolved, making a difference in homeless veterans' lives.
To learn more about upcoming Veteran StandDown events visit the Arizona Housing Coalition.