Fulton Court Helps Veterans
Court offers specialized treatment to vets whose private struggles have led them to criminal acts
On a recent Friday morning at the Fulton County Courthouse, a handful of men relax in the benches of courtroom 5-B and casually swap stories.
"What branch were you in?" Sheriff's Deputy Evan Shaw cheerfully queries everyone there. Two fellow Navy vets speak up, and the three ex-seamen tick off their ranks, vessels and stations from former days, exchanging shore-leave memories of late nights and the occasional too-late return to make it aboard ship.
More men drift in, laughing and exchanging fist-bumps, until some two dozen are arranged in knots around the benches.
A dapper man, repeatedly punching his cellphone to exhort a laggard friend to run from the Marta station so he won't be late, turns with a grin.
"I don't usually like walking into a courtroom," he confesses, "but this isn't too bad. We kind of look forward to it."
The hubbub subsides and everyone stands as Fulton County Superior Court Judge D. Todd Markle emerges from his chambers, a broad smile on his face.
"I want to welcome everyone to Veterans Court," says Markle, opening the session with the Pledge of Allegiance before turning to his "star calendar"—those who have been "exceeding expectations, doing well."
With the enthusiasm of a variety show host, Markle introduces "a gentleman who's been with us from the start and has consistently been a star," calling Reginald to the podium.
"Let's give him a round of applause," says Markle, and the room obliges, program participants, deputies, investigators and staff all joining in.
After months of looking, Reginald has gotten a job as a cook, and Markle is effusive in his praise.