Delaware Municipal Court Judge Marianne Hemmeter was recently given the Civil Servant of the Year award by AMVETS.
Hemmeter was presented the Past Department Commanders’ Civil Servant of the Year Award at the annual Legislative Awards breakfast, which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel North in Columbus Feb. 15.
AMVETS said Hemmeter was given the award for her work on Delaware Municipal Court’s Mission Court, a specialized treatment docket for veterans who plead guilty to nonviolent crimes. In the docket, the veterans are given a fellow veteran as a mentor and work with the court to treat underlying causes of the offense such as substance abuse.
Hemmeter, who said she is “humbled” by the award, started the specialized docket in Delaware at the start of 2018.
“You appreciate people acknowledging the work that you do,” Hemmeter said. “My first reaction was that I haven’t done anything to deserve this because to me, I’m just doing my job, but it’s always nice to receive recognition. It’s humbling to be around veterans, when you meet people who day in and day out serve our country and put their lives on the line. It’s truly a humbling experience.”
Hemmeter added she would not have received the award and the docket would not be a success if it weren’t for the court staff and mentors she works with.
“The people who really deserve the award are the staff and the mentors who come to court and do the hard work every day to make sure veterans stay on track to graduate,” Hemmeter said, adding she believes the docket fills a need in the public, and it’s about more than just a criminal charge.
“It’s a priority, because we do have a number of veterans who find themselves in the criminal justice system, and what we have found, particularly with the vets we select is that we’re really dealing with suicide prevention,” Hemmeter said. “(We’re seeing) instances of post-traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, coupled with with real mental health issues. For me as a judge, it really is suicide prevention.”
Hemmeter said veterans usually spend about a year-and-a-half in the program before they graduate, but everyone goes at a different pace.
“The important piece is that we haven’t had anyone come back to court,” she said. “We want to look out two, three, four years, but so far, everyone who’s graduated has not re-offended, which is huge.”
Hemmeter said she is thankful for the award, and she remains committed to the docket.
“It hasn’t changed my outlook. I truly appreciate it, but my outlook has always been do the best you can do, period,” Hemmeter said. “That’s what I strive to do every day is to make sure we are holding offenders accountable and helping those offenders that have shown and demonstrated to the court that will take very serious the treatment plan the court provides.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.