Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court
Chief Judge Maria I. Dominguez to present on success of local Homeless Court at national summit
Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court Chief Judge Maria I. Dominguez has been invited to speak at the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2022 National Homeless Court Summit in Washington, D.C. in mid-September.
Chief Judge Dominguez will join stakeholders from similar programs across the country to share their experiences implementing an ABA accredited Homeless Court and offer guidance to those looking to start similarly successful programs.
“It’s an honor to be invited to present alongside a group of innovative and dedicated professionals who are committed to helping end the cycle of homelessness in their communities,” said Chief Judge Dominguez, who has presided over Metro Court’s Outreach Court since 2019.
Metro Court’s Outreach Court is among 70 Homeless Courts across the nation that works to meet homeless or precariously housed individuals where they are in the community and remove legal barriers that may be holding them back from stable housing and employment.
In 2019, Chief Judge Dominguez restructured Outreach Court to follow the American Bar Association’s seven guiding principles for Homeless Courts and modeled itself after the San Diego Homeless Court. This model is based around local community service providers being the gateway for participants to enter into the program voluntarily.
Outreach Court is a specialty court program aimed at a segment of the population that has limited means of complying with conditions of the Court and faces challenges in obtaining legal representation. As a result, misdemeanor charges are often ignored until the defendant is incarcerated. Outreach Court is unique from all other specialty courts in that it is designed to work with individuals already engaged with treatment providers and give them an opportunity to resolve outstanding misdemeanor cases and warrants. In Fiscal Year 2022, 72 homeless individuals graduated from the program.
The two-day Summit, scheduled September 12th and 13th, is the first national training of its kind to take place on the East Coast, where Homeless Courts are not as prevalent as in the west.