Public Information Office: Press Releases
HOUSTON MUNICIPAL COURTS DEPARTMENT CREATES A NEW SAFE HARBOR COURT TO ASSIST HOUSTONIANS WITH INABILITY TO PAY COURT FINES AND FEES
October 23, 2020 -- In alignment with Mayor Turner’s Complete Communities Plan to create a more equitable and prosperous city for all Houstonians, the Houston Municipal Courts Department (MCD) will unveil its new Safe Harbor Court to assist citizens who are having financial hardships and medical issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After producing evidence of their inability to pay their fines and fees, the Court will work with each individual to assist with satisfying their judgments in an effort to remove or prevent their cases from going into a delinquent status, or further, into a capias pro fine warrant status.
“This is a transitional period for our City and our Country, and I want the Safe Harbor Court to be in the forefront of giving the assistance needed for our citizens who are struggling with financial issues due to this pandemic,” said Judge J. Elaine Marshall, Director and Presiding Judge of MCD. “I intend to have two designated judges for this court and these will be the judges that I will deploy into the various communities to meet with the citizens in their communities where they can speak freely with the judges about their indigency/inability to pay issues. This will provide them an opportunity to see a judge who will listen to their issues and give options of how to move forward. This will relax their fears of arrest and will help them understand that the Safe Harbor Court is designed to assist.”
Following Mayor Sylvester 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 the courthouse.
For additional announcements and 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.