S.F.'s new night court comes to order in SoMa
By John Coté
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Night court is coming to San Francisco. Just don't expect a bald, goofy bailiff and a quirky judge.
This night court won't have either. It's an expansion of District Attorney George Gascón's
neighborhood courts program, where community leaders decide culpability
and punishment for low-level misdemeanors and infractions such as
graffiti and petty theft.
Gascón introduced the program two years
ago to resolve low-level cases more efficiently and unclog parts of the
court system, while trying to reduce the chances that someone would
reoffend. The idea is that when a teen who has been tagging storefronts,
for instance, comes face to face with church leaders, business owners
and other figures from his neighborhood, who sentence him to clean up
his mess and do some other community service, he'll be less likely to do
The courts started out slowly, but have since gained momentum.
to an increase in cases, members of San Francisco's communities
requested expanded hours to increase participant and community
participation," Gascón said in a statement announcing the expanded
The new night court will be held monthly in the SoMa neighborhood at the Eucharist Church, 285 Main St., from 6 to 8 p.m., starting Thursday.
to Gascón, cases heard at San Francisco's 10 neighborhood courts saved
$330,000 last year compared with handling the cases through the criminal
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