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Merciful Judge Joins Veteran Behind Bars After Sentencing Him to 24 Hours in Jail

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

judgeTurns out judges are actually compassionate people, too!

Recently, a judge was forced to sentence a veteran, Sgt. Joseph Serna, to some time behind bars when he confessed to lying about a recent urine test after spending time in the veteran's treatment court program. What brought him there? Being charged with driving under the influence after returning home from combat.

Turns out Sgt. Joseph Serna should be celebrated for all of his accomplishments overseas, though, and the judge felt he had already been through enough. After serving four combat tours in Afghanistan over nearly a two-decades long career with the U.S. Army, he has returned home and has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder ever since.

During his tours in Afghanistan, he was almost killed three times: once by a suicide bomber and another time by a roadside bomb. The third time was when his armored truck left the road and plunged into a canal, where it quickly filled with water. He was drowning fast, when he felt a fellow soldier, Sgt. James Treber, unfastened his seat belt in the water and moved him to a pocket of air. Treber, however, died after not being able to find a pocket of air for himself. 

Serna has earned three Purple Hearts and many other prestigious military honors, but the PTSD has followed him everywhere since returning to the U.S. for good. Like many veterans, he turned to alcohol. 

State District Court Judge Lou Olivera has seen Serna fight to stay sober and has appeared before him 25 times to have his progress reviewed while being in treatment. That being said, after lying about a recent urine test recently, the judge sentenced Serna to one day in jail. 

The judge had taken a special interest in Serna, however, and personally drove him to the jail, where he witnessed Serna trembling as he was about to serve his time. "I decided that I'd spend the night serving with him," said Judge Olivera.

As Serna began his sentence and sat down in his jail cell, he saw Judge Olivera joining him. A guard came in and locked the cell door, which confused Serna. Since it's a one-man cell, Serna asked him "You're here for the entire time with me"? 

This judge took it to a whole new level by responding, "Yeah, that's what I'm doing."

What an emotional story! If only everyone would show such empathy to all of our wonderful vets!

Read another bail bond blog:  Man Charged With Felony for Filling McDonald’s Water Cup With Soda

Original article & image credit:  A compassionate judge sentences a veteran to 24 hours in jail, then joins him behind bars