Veterans facing civil charges in Houston can now have cases heard through a new veterans court system.
Elaine Marshall, director and presiding judge of Houston’s Municipal Courts and Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the creation of the new court Oct. 9.
It will serve Houston’s estimated 288,000 veterans, helping them resolve civil charges and get connected with community programs such as the Houston Division of Veteran Affairs and a local nonprofit, Combined Arms Houston.
“We know that too often a veteran’s first encounter with the city is through a Class C misdemeanor,” Marshall said. “We want to connect them to the VA, Combined Arms, and prosecutors and lawyers who are willing to help them get back on their feet into the real world they’re coming into.”
Veterans who need to resolve a civil dispute must provide proof of veteran’s status to a judge at any of the city’s six municipal courts. Veterans court will hear cases on the second Tuesday of every month, Marshall said.
Veterans who resolve disputes through the new system, which begins operating on Oct. 15, will be connected with community programs to address social and mental health services, Marshall said.
They will also be informed of processes to expunge their records and to apply for driver’s licenses, ID cards and other services.
Houston’s municipal court already operates a similar program for the city’s homeless population as well.