December 11, 2019
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The City of Spartanburg became the latest South Carolina municipality to receive approval from the Supreme Court of South Carolina to create a homeless court with the assistance of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.
The first session of Spartanburg homeless court will be held at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen on Dec. 18, 2019 at 1 p.m. Spartanburg will be the first and the only homeless court in the Upstate at this time.
The process began in May 2019 when Spartanburg Chief Municipal Court Judge Erika McJimpsey sought assistance from Nelson Mullins to first consider whether a homeless court was feasible for Spartanburg and then, if so, to assist in its implementation. Nelson Mullins has been involved in creating homeless courts throughout South Carolina. An article in the South Carolina Lawyer inspired Judge McJimpsey to contact Nelson Mullins about the possibility of creating a homeless court for Spartanburg.
The city, along with local homeless advocates like Miracle Hill Ministries, the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen, the United Way, and South Carolina Legal Services had a good background for assisting homeless individuals that sought relief.
Judge McJimpsey created a homeless court committee composed of Barry Barnette, the solicitor; Clay Allen, the public defender; Alonzo Thompson, Chief of the Spartanburg City Police Department; and local homeless shelter directors, local homeless advocates, and local service providers, among others. The committee met approximately five times in various places in Spartanburg and along the way conducted one hour of continuing legal education on homeless courts for members of the Spartanburg Bar; site visits to the original South Carolina Homeless Court in Columbia; and held training sessions provided by trainers from the American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness and Poverty, the Fifth Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s office, and the Fifth Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s office. The American Bar Association dispatched its national homeless court consultant, Steve Binder of San Diego, who provided training to the local participants on July 21, 2019 in Spartanburg.
Homeless courts provide an incentive for those homeless people that have pending criminal charges to seek treatment from a service provider and demonstrate a change of course. If they meet their goals, they may be able to have pending criminal charges dismissed and sometimes prior convictions reopened and dismissed. The charges are limited to misdemeanors and have other limitations.
The Spartanburg Homeless Court sessions will be held at the Spartanburg Soup Kitchen. The South Carolina homeless courts have successfully cleared up the records of many homeless people, who have gone on to obtain jobs and stable housing that a criminal record would not have allowed.
For further information contact Nelson Mullins partner George B. Cauthen @ 803-255-9425.
Established in 1897, Nelson Mullins has more than 800 attorneys and government relations professionals with offices in 11 states and Washington, DC. For more information on the firm, go to www.nelsonmullins.com.
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