Some judges go the extra mile for some cases like how Judge Judy always looks at the big picture on how conflict happened. However, no one will probably surpass the compassion showed by Judge Lou Olivera who spent a night in jail with the convict that appeared before his court.
Army veteran Joe Serna was sentenced to a night in jail for violating his probation. However, the judge that passed the sentence decided to accompany Serna in jail. The reason will move you to tears.
h/t: Toronto Star
Joe Serna is a former soldier in the Special Forces Army who was assigned in Afghanistan and has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) ever since he returned home. The former Green Beret has been given two purple hearts for his service and has experienced frightening things in the war zone first hand.
Serna has survived a fatal attack using an improvised explosive device (IED) and an attack by a suicide bomber. He was also the sole survivor of an accident when an army attack he was in was submerged in a creek.
Due to these unfortunate incidents, Serna had problems with small spaces and turned to the bottle. However, it also caused him problems with the law. He was charged with a couple of traffic offenses, mainly because of driving under the influence.
During his previous court appearance, the court took into consideration that he is a veteran and was simply advised to stay sober and periodically check in every two weeks.
However, Serna was unable to keep this promise and was sentenced by Judge Lou Olivera to one night in jail. When Serna was transferred into a cell the next day, Judge Olivera arrived a couple of minutes later.
“When Joe first came to turn himself in, he was trembling. I decided that I’d spend the night serving with him. I knew what Joe was going through and I knew Joe’s history. I knew he had to be held accountable, but I just knew…I had to go with him,” Judge Olivera said.
Serna, on the other hand, was surprised to see the judge walking towards his prison cell.
“They take me to the cell, and I’m sitting on my bunk. And, then, in walks the judge. I knew this was a very compassionate man,” Serna said.
Judge Olivera is also a veteran of the Gulf War and completely understands what Serna is going through. The cell may intensify Serna’s fear of tight spaces and PSTD. That is why Judge Olivera checked himself in as well.
Inside, the two shared a meal together and talked about their families. Serna then said that it seems “the walls were no longer there”.
“He took me back to North Carolina,” Serna said. “He took me from a truck in Afghanistan back to North Carolina.”
The two hugged each other and promised the judge that he will stay sober.