A judge out of Cumberland County, North Carolina, made an unexpected move in an effort to help a troubled vet. After sentencing the man to spend the night in jail last week, the judge came right in behind him and spent the night there too.
Joseph Serna, a former Special Forces soldier who was been through four deployments, has come in front of District Court Judge Lou Olivera 25 times. Serna admits he uses alcohol as a means to fight his demons and it has cost him dearly. His fight to get sober has thus far been unsuccessful.
But the last time he stood before Olivera, who is also a veteran who served during the Gulf War, the judge saw an opportunity to do things differently.
“The judge comes in,” Serna recalled, “… and so we’re sitting there and they lock the door and I realized, oh, we’re going to stay the night. He’s going to stay the night here with me.”
Serna said he spent the night talking with Olivera, but it wasn’t like a typical talk with the judge. He said it was more of a father-son conversation.
“It was personal,” he said.
Olivera said the night wasn’t about him, but rather Serna.
“They have worn the uniform and we know they can be contributing members of society. We just want to get them back there,” Olivera said.
Serna has since vowed to get his life back on track and says he will not disappoint the judge.
[ WRAL ]