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Alex Frix fights for veterans

Thurston County Veterans Court innovative program

Alex Frix. Photo courtesy of

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"When you are representing a veteran or even someone still on active-duty, someone who has served their country and done something so amazing, it is truly humbling," stated attorney Alex Frix, who started his career as a public defender in 2006 and currently works in the Thurston County Office of Assigned Counsel.

Frix, an Army brat whose father retired in 2008 as a major general, felt an affinity for clients who were returning from recent combat tours and dealing with repercussions from their post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries. He continued to notice the growing number of veterans involved in the justice system and he realized there had to be a better way.

Then he learned of the first Veterans Court, which was established in Buffalo, and knew that it could help the veteran population in Thurston County. So he began researching and sharing that research with his peers, his supervisors and anyone that could help.

The Thurston County Veterans Court, which was the first created in the state and the 12th throughout the country, is an innovative program that offers chance at rehabilitation to veterans who, due to service-related mental health issues, find themselves facing legal charges; cases pertaining to sexual crimes or illegal use of weapons are not eligible.

"I thought this was a way that we could all work together and solve the issue at the root for the client, as opposed to the typical adversarial relationship between the defender and the prosecutor," he explained.

The Veterans Court is an alternative court, which means that the defendants have the option to accept treatment and regular monitoring in lieu of jail time or in exchange for a reduced sentence; if they do not complete the outlined program, the defendants the reduced sentence can be revoked.

The Washington Department of Veterans Affairs and the Governor's Veterans Affairs Advisory Committee recently noted Frix's commitment to the veteran community when they presented him with a 2013 Outstanding Service to Veterans Award. He was one of only eight recipients statewide.

‘The success of the program depends upon dedication of the professionals involved. Alex Frix continues to display an unwavering dedication to our veteran population and should be recognized for his service,' was part of the glowing nomination that the WDVA received.

"Receiving this award and getting the recognition was a great honor," said Frix, who actually got to be a part of the large-scale Veterans Day parade in Auburn in November. "But Judge Brett Buckley, the VA and others have been a large part of establishing this court, it's not just me ... but it's great that our court is receiving more attention and that the concept is spreading."

In fact, since its inception four years ago, Thurston County Veterans Court has spurred both the Seattle Municipal Court and King County to create similar programs.

Previously, the Washington Defender Association recognized Frix in 2012 for his work in Veterans Court. He also works closely with Northwest Justice Project, Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Trial Defense Services and other local agencies devoted to providing fair service to veterans experiencing legal problems.

"We need to focus on coordinating resources to address these types of problems," Frix opined. "We can do this because the resources for veterans do exist and we can do some good."

Thurston County Veterans Court, which is open to the public, is held at 4 p.m. every Wednesday in Thurston County District Court, Building 3, at the Thurston County Courthouse in Olympia.

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