Public Information Office: Press Releases
HOUSTON MUNICIPAL COURTS DEPARTMENT TO HOST SAFE HARBOR COURT COMMUNITY VISIT FRIDAY AT BEULAH SHEPHERD BUILDING
Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, from 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m -- at the Acres Home Chamber for Business and Economic Development at the Beulah Shepherd Building, 6112 Wheatley St., Houston, 77091, the Houston Municipal Courts Department (MCD) will host its first Safe Harbor Court community visit to assist defendants who are unable to pay their fines and fees due to financial hardships stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.
During Friday’s community visit, MCD Director and Presiding Judge J. Elaine Marshall and Safe Harbor Court judges will meet with residents to discuss their cases and give potential options on how to move forward.
“While the vaccine’s distribution in our community brings us hope for the future, we know that Houstonians still have a long road to recovery, and many residents will feel the impacts from the pandemic for many months. The Safe Harbor Court is designed to assist defendants due to financial hardships, medical issues, or issues arising from COVID-19 in satisfying judgments and will work with defendants who produce evidence of an inability to pay fines and fees,” said Judge J. Elaine Marshall, Director and Presiding Judge of MCD. “My vision is for the Safe Harbor Court to be a place for citizens who have not been able to satisfy judgments against them and find themselves in a place where they have an inability to pay to come into our court without fear of arrest and talk to judges about their situation.”
Originally announced during an Oct. 23 news conference, the Safe Harbor Court seeks to help defendants who are unable to pay their fines and fees due to financial hardships stemming from the pandemic. Evidence OF hardships caused by COVID-19 include bank statements, eviction notices, food stamps, WIC, CHIP, SSI TANF, and other items the judges request
The cases presented are for Class C misdemeanor fine only citations, and the judges will determine the validity of claims on a case by case basis. The judge will provide options that will range from fine forgiveness to community service.
Mayor Sylvester Turner approved the Safe Harbor Court as part of his Complete Communities Initiative and the Task Force on Police Reform. Following Mayor Turner’s and CDC guidelines to protect the public and MCD staff from the spread of COVID-19, members of the public will be required to wear face masks/facial coverings and have their temperature taken prior to entering.
For additional announcements and updated information, please call the City of Houston Helpline at 3-1-1, or 713.837.0311 if outside of the City of Houston, or visit the Municipal Courts website at www.houstontx.gov/courts.