A More Robust Homeless Court to Debut

Apr 8, 2016

Credit Heidi Walters, North Coast Weekly Journal

  When a new Sonoma County court program for homeless individuals debuts on Thursday, it will incorporate new partnerships and increased supports for the defendants.

The way these cases are handled within the court system have changed very little since the previous attempts to have Homeless Court sessions locally, says Jose Guillen, Sonoma County’s Court Executive officer. What’s different now is the participation of additional support agencies outside of the courts.

Homeless Court sessions are held in Judge Wheeldin's usual Traffic Court space in Room 106-J at the Sonoma County courthouse.

  Georgia Berland, Executive Officer for the Sonoma County Task Force on the Homeless, is hopeful that this fourth attempt to establish a Homeless Court in Sonoma County will take hold and continue beyond the first four planned sessions. But she is also cognizant of the additional complexities involved in expanding the program to also include misdemeanors.

For now, Sonoma County Public Defender Kathleen Posey says her office is ready to step in and offer assistance to any homeless court participants who may also face unresolved misdemeanor charges.