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City of Seattle
Ed Murray, Mayor
NEWS ADVISORY
SUBJECT: Seattle Municipal Court hosts Homeless Veteran’s Court forum
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
6/24/2005  3:30:00 PM
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Lorri Cox (206) 615-1606
Gary Ireland  (206) 684-8710


Seattle Municipal Court hosts Homeless Veteran’s Court forum

The Seattle Municipal Court, Columbia Legal Services, Seattle City Attorney, and the Associated Counsel for the Accused will host a Homeless Veteran’s Court forum on Monday, June 27 at Seattle Municipal Court. The forum is an opportunity to bring together experts from San Diego County, the site of the first Homeless Court, and local providers to learn the most effective way to operate a similar court in King County.

Seattle Municipal Court sees many homeless defendants who commit low level quality of life crimes such as theft, criminal trespass, and drinking in public. Homeless individuals may fail to comply with the court process since they have no address to receive a criminal summons, resulting in issuance of a warrant. This minor offense could be more effectively addressed through a Homeless Court process, whereby the court, legal system and social service systems collaborate to help resolve misdemeanors for defendants already on the road to self-sufficiency. Service providers identify candidates and the prosecutor and public defender work out a plea agreement. In most cases, part of the sentence includes credit for progress the individual has already made. This may include participation in drug or alcohol treatment, completion of an anger management class, or completion of community service.

The first Homeless Court in the nation was held at the 1989 Stand Down in San Diego. It allowed Veterans already engaged with services to quash outstanding warrants for misdemeanor offenses, and resolve the underlying legal issues without jail time. The successful San Diego Homeless Court has served as the model for several other California counties, as well as Albuquerque, New Mexico, Salt Lake City, Utah, and, since 2004, Vancouver, Washington.

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