Courtroom moves to shelter to help homeless sort out legal issue - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

Courtroom moves to shelter to help homeless sort out legal issues

The New Orleans Mission was transformed into a courtroom to help the homeless sort out municipal legal issues. (FOX 8 Photo) The New Orleans Mission was transformed into a courtroom to help the homeless sort out municipal legal issues. (FOX 8 Photo)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

A municipal court judge heard cases inside a homeless shelter Thursday as part of a pilot program to help those on the fringes of society clear up outstanding legal issues.

Normally, if someone has a ticket or an outstanding warrant in New Orleans, they go to Orleans Parish Municipal Court. But for the city's homeless population, that can be a little bit of a challenge, so Judge Sean Early's courtroom moved to the New Orleans Mission.

The people at this shelter, many of them homeless, represent some of the 34,000 outstanding warrants and attachments buried within the city's municipal court system.

Those include misdemeanor arrests, missed court dates, and fines that grow over time. It can be a vicious cycle, that all too often goes unaddressed, either because the people cannot get to court, will not get to court, cannot pay the fees, or do not even know there is an issue. 

Thursday's hearings with Early offer a quick fix and fresh start.

Those with the court, and the public defender's office, say the problem of homeless incarceration is a big one and admit, while there is no real template to follow with a program like this, attempting to clear up the courts and jails is a win-win all the way around. 

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