“I have had two walk-ins at our temporary office here in Baton Rouge who have needed notary services to obtain a duplicate title for their car. When I told the first lady, who had lost everything in the storm, that I was not charging her for my notary services, she broke down crying at the table. The second lady was just as thankful. Although I have lost a lot myself, it makes my day to help those who have lost everything.”
New Orleans H.E.L.P. volunteer following Hurricane Katrina
An Update on The Homeless Court
Our Homeless Court protocol has evolved somewhat based on the personality of the Court and Judge Sens. Judge Sens has shown great leadership with the Homeless Court. In addition to provider identified cases, the Court sua sponte puts 40-50 cases on the docket each month.
Many of these people would never make it onto a Homeless Court docket like they have in San Diego. But they make it on to the docket here because the judge brings providers into the courtroom and connects them, or reconnects them, with homeless individuals needing services.
Thus, the Court now serves 2 purposes. 1.) Petty offenses that serve as legal impediments to housing and employment are dismissed upon demonstration that the individual is following through with providers and ready to re-enter society. 2.) Individuals who need services are connected to those. We also work on keeping these individuals connected.
The American Bar Association recognizes Project H.E.L.P. through the 2011 Pro Bono Publico Award
- Father Harry Tompson Center
1802 Tulane Avenue
Contact: Don Thompson
- New Orleans Mission
1130 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd
Contact: Ron Gonzalez
(504) 523-2116 x201 or
- St. Joseph’s Center
1802 Tulane Avenue
Contact: Sr. Vera Butler
(504) 522-3186 x25
- Ozanam Inn
843 Camp Street
Contact: Deacon G.
- New Orleans, LA (H.E.L.P. Program)
Contact: Judge Jay C. Zainey
About the New Orleans Homeless Court Program
- Ozanam Inn, the Rebuild Center and our H.E.L.P. volunteer attorneys will identify folks who have outstanding municipal court attachments – they will obtain as much identifying information as possible (full name, any aliases used, date of birth, social security number, list of charges, date of arrest, etc.).
- They will send the lists to Sherry Dolan.
- Sherry in turn will compile the lists and forward them to IDB Assistant Public Defender Norman Pettingill, Anita McCrossen, and Judy Defraites.
- Norman, Anita and/Judy will present their list to Ron Lampard – Ron will present those attachments to the judges who issued the attachments identifying them as defendants participating in the homeless court program, and the judges will determine if it would be reasonable to recall the attachments.
- If the judge feels appropriate, he or she will recall the attachments and transfer the cases to Judge Sens’ court.
- The Homeless Court cases will be scheduled by Judge Sens at a time and date that he will select (possibly 10:30 AM – on a particular day of the week).
- Ron will notify the particular homeless shelter the date of the status conference.
- The shelter will assist in providing resources which will hopefully address some of the issues the person faces (i.e. AA meetings, NA meetings, employment, counseling, etc.) , and a representative from the shelter will attend Homeless Court with the defendant and either Norman, Anita or Judy – and be present at the pretrial conference with Assistant City Attorney Gerry Archer – [email protected]. The shelter’s representative will inform Gerry of the progress made by the defendant.
- Ozanam Inn will provide transportation of the homeless to the Homeless Court.
- If employment issues would prevent a person from attending the status conference in person, the homeless director or his designee will notify Gerry in advance by email.
When you serve as a H.E.L.P. volunteer either providing legal consultation services or notary services, please ask the homeless person if he/she has an outstanding municipal arrest warrant/attachment and find out as much information as you can – as outlined in paragraph 1 above.
Then contact either the homeless shelter director or Sherry Dolan. Sherry will receive the list of names of people with attachments from the homeless shelter directors and from the H.E.L.P. volunteer attorneys, and Sherry will maintain direct communication with Ron, Gerry, Norman, Anita and Judy.
The following is the list of Contact People for the New Orleans Municipal Court Homeless Court Program:
- Homeless Court Coordinator and contact Person: Sherry Dolan – [email protected]
- Municipal Court Clerk of Court – Ron Lampard – [email protected]
- Assistant Public Defenders – Norman Pettingill – [email protected]; Anita McCrossen – [email protected]; and Judy Defraites – [email protected]
- Assistant City Attorney – Gerry Archer – [email protected]