The Honorable Tina Snee, a Fairfax County General District Court judge, has championed mental health initiatives through the court by helping to expand the Fairfax County Diversion First initiative into the county system and securing funding for the expansion of the county’s Supervised Release Program. She has also been instrumental in developing Fairfax County’s new Mental Health Docket over which she and Judge Susan J. Stoney will preside. The docket, which was recently approved by the Virginia Supreme Court, is scheduled to launch in July.
“The issue of mental health is important to the whole judicial system,” says Snee. “Unfortunately, a large number of individuals who are part of the judicial system suffer from varying degrees of mental health/co-occurring issues. Their needs would be best addressed by behavioral health specialists. The goal of the justice system is to make sure they are in the best place to have those needs addressed, which is not always the jail. They need to be treated for competency, so they can participate in their own cases.”
The Mental Health Docket was developed by Snee and Stoney to work in conjunction with the county’s Supervised Release Non-Compliance Docket as another option for those experiencing different mental health/co-occurring issues. The Supervised Release Non-Compliance Docket, which has helped 180 people since it began in August 2018, served as a pilot for a full Mental Health Docket. The Mental Health Docket will allow commonwealth and defense attorneys to require a defendant to complete different phases of treatment until they “graduate,” at which time the defendant’s charges will be resolved.
“It is the goal of every judge to promote the fair administration of justice,” Snee adds. “The goal of Diversion First is for those with mental health or co-occurring issues to be treated in a just and fair method. This new docket helps with these goals.”
Snee was appointed to the Fairfax County General District Court in 2015 for a six-year term, having served as a substitute judge for two years prior. Her legal career spans 26 years, focused mainly on civil litigation in the trial and appellate courts of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Snee was recently recognized by Virginia Lawyers Weekly as one of the Influential Women of Law. This new award program honors women attorneys and judges for their excellent work on behalf of their clients, their commitment to their communities and their service to the profession. She received the award at a reception and dinner in Richmond, and her work was featured in a special supplement of Virginia Lawyers Weekly.