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Spokane's Community Court To Reconvene This Week After Pandemic Break

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

One more Spokane insititution is re-emerging from a coronavirus-induced postponement.The city’s community court will reopen Monday and resume its two-day-a-week schedule.

Community court is a place where people who face low-level charges and other challenges, such as drug addictions and homelessness, have their cases adjudicated by a judge.

Coordinator Seth Hackenberg says the court will reconvene with a slightly different schedule than before: Mondays at the Northeast Community Center and Tuesdays in the city council chambers.

“We are limiting the number of participants, so we will only be serving 20 participants at both locations. These are the folks that are having the most trouble right now," Hackenberg said.

The court will screen participants before they enter.

“Everyone will be wearing a mask. Everyone is given a thermometer check before they come in. Everyone who is experiencing any symptoms is obviously going to be turned away," he said.

The court has traditionally invited representatives from agencies who provide help and referrals on-site to people who need it. Hackenberg says a few of those will be there, though not all in person. The court plans to install computer monitors for virtual meetings.

He says the community court has been valuable to people who need regular contact with court employees and others who keep them on track.

“Our service providers have been trying to maintain contact as best they can during this and have been providing us with general updates. So we’ve had some connection but not nearly as much as we would want to," Hackenberg said.

Community court proceedings have, until now, been open to the public. But, because of the need to reduce density in the room, will be limited only to participants, court personnel, attorneys and service providers.