On April 12, a judge in Fayetteville, North Carolina, decided to accompany a retired veteran on an overnight stay in jail. District Court Judge Lou Olivera sentenced Joe Serna to a night in jail after he violated the terms of his probation for a DWI conviction. Serna is a retired Green Beret that served three tours in Afghanistan, and Judge Olivera is a veteran that served in the Gulf War.
Judge Olivera presides over Cumberland County Veterans Treatment Court, which focuses on getting vets treatment and rehabilitation services. The judge made his decision to join Serna when he reported back to court after violating his probation:
When Joe first came to turn himself in, he was trembling. I decided that I'd spend the night serving with him.
Serna has struggled with substance abuse following his service in Afghanistan, and he told the Fayetteville Observer that the judge's compassion meant the world to him when he saw him enter his cell:
I knew this was a very compassionate man. I know how involved he is with veterans, and he's a veteran himself. I got chills when he walked in.
They spent much of the night discussing their military service and families. The judge wants to keep the focus on Serna, and all the other veterans he helps in court:
And it appears that helping others is something he's tried his best to do before this case:
This is a great story, and probably the only recent legal news coming out of North Carolina that everyone can agree is a good idea.