Akron Municipal Court's Valor Court Earns Certification
Valor Court, a specialized docket of the Akron Municipal Court, recently earned a renewed certification from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets. It is now certified through December 31, 2021. Judge Jerry Larson has presided over Valor Court since its inception in 2013.
In order to receive the certification, the Akron Municipal Court had to submit an application, undergo a site visit and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went in to effect in January 2014.
Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor congratulated the Akron Municipal Court and Judge Larson for receiving the certification.
“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” said Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.”
This is the third certification earned by the Akron Municipal Court’s Valor Court. The previous two certifications were earned in 2014 and 2015.
“Valor Court has made a large impact on our local veteran population and I am proud of our team’s success,” said Akron Municipal Court Judge Jerry Larson. “It is incredibly rewarding to lead Valor Court and earn this new certification.”
The Valor Court team is comprised of The Honorable Judge Jerry Larson, Valor Court Coordinator Jonathan Groza, Akron Municipal Court Chief of Probation Tony Ingram, Akron Municipal Court Deputy Chief of Probation Jeff Sturmi, Akron Municipal Court Probation Officer Matt Esterle and representatives from the City of Akron Prosecutor’s Office, the Summit County Legal Defender’s Office, the Akron Police Department, Veterans Service Commission of Summit County, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Community Legal Aid and Valor Court Peer Mentors who are community volunteers with prior military experience.
In addition to Valor Court, the Akron Municipal Court has four additional specialized dockets: Mental Health Court led by Judge Annalisa S. Williams, Recovery Court led by Judge Jon Oldham, Family Intervention Court led by Judge Ron Cable and OVI Court led by Judge Nicole Walker.
About Valor Court
Valor Court is a specialized docket dedicated to defendants with military service involved in the criminal justice system. The court emphasizes alternative methods with a non-adversarial approach to addressing the offense. Valor Court is a two-track model with diversion for non-violent offenses (Intervention In Lieu of Conviction) and non-diversion (Post-Conviction or Probation Track) programs. The program is a one-year intensive program that includes frequent appearances before the Valor Court Judge, intensive supervision, linkage with the Veteran's Administration system, resource assistance through the Veteran's Service Commission, mental health and substance abuse counseling, frequent and random drug testing and graduated sanctions and rewards. Participation is voluntary.
Judge Larson established the Akron Municipal Valor Court in conjunction with Summit County Court of Common Pleas Veteran Court with an opening ceremony in 2013; the first of its kind in the state of Ohio.
Valor Court sessions are held in the courtroom of Judge Jerry Larson, Room 943, on predetermined Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. Treatment team meetings and peer-mentor interactions occur before the court session.
About the Commission on Specialized Dockets
The Commission on Specialized Dockets has 22 members who advise the Supreme Court and its staff regarding the promotion of statewide rules and uniform standards concerning specialized dockets in Ohio courts; the development and delivery of specialized docket services to Ohio courts; and the creation of training programs for judges and court personnel. The commission makes all decisions regarding final certification.