The Office of Policy and Planning serves as the technical assistance arm of the Unified Court System for problem-solving courts. The following are frequently asked questions regarding veteran mentor programs.
Q: How often are mentors required to meet with participants?
A: Once a week is recommended, but mentors must understand that every participant is different. The goal is to form a supportive relationship with their participant.
Q: Can mentors be effective without much knowledge of the law or courtroom proceedings?
A: Mentors do not need to have legal or criminal justice experience. In fact, mentors must not provide legal advice.
Q: Should mentors use a “tough love” approach?
A: Although a mentor may believe it will better help a participant, this approach is counter-productive to a participant’s recovery. A strengths-based approach that encourages and motivates participants is preferable.
Q: Can attorneys serve as veteran mentors?
A: Attorneys who appear in Veterans Treatment Court should not become mentors. Attorneys, who do not represent litigants in Veterans Treatment Court, can be mentors, but they must not provide legal advice to participants.
Q: Why can’t Unified Court System employees be mentors?
A: Unified Court System employees must avoid the appearance of impropriety. Court employees face a conflict of interest in serving as impartial mentors.
Q: Can the Veterans Treatment Court mandate participants to meet with veteran mentors?
A: Initially, many participants will show little or no interest in the mentor program. Once participants feel comfortable and trustworthy of the Veterans Treatment Court, they usually commence meeting with mentors. The mentor program should be encouraged and not mandated.
Q: Can the mentor coordinator keep his or her case management notes with court files?
A: Files from the mentor program should be maintained separately from court files.
Q: Does the Unified Court System provide training programs for courts interested in planning a Veterans Treatment Court or enhance an existing mentoring program?
A: The Office of Policy and Planning works with the district offices and local courts to provide training programs on various veteran and non veteran related topics, statewide.