February 21st, 2023, Court Leader’s Advantage Podcast Episode

Brought to You in Cooperation with NACM

We see this growing crisis everywhere.  We pass the cardboard sign at the intersection asking for donations and wishing us: “God Bless.”  We see the blue tarp and shopping cart half hidden in that small grove of trees next to the freeway. We see him sleeping on the sidewalk over the grate.

Although we know the crisis is growing, we don’t even have a good idea of how big it is.  The statistics are so vague they are better described as guesstimates.  By one guestimate, there are over half a million homeless nationwide.  Los Angeles for example is believed to have over 40,000 homeless.

Experts think that about a third of the homeless suffer from mental illness; a third have drug or alcohol issues.  There is a crossover so a sizeable percentage suffers from both.  In addition, other root causes of homelessness include being priced out of housing, being a victim of domestic violence, being unemployed, having a disability, having had a financial disaster such as a catastrophic illness, or just being poor and old.

This month we look at how courts respond to homelessness and how they should be addressing this growing crisis.  Next to the police, the courts are one of the first points of contact with the homeless.  A court may operate a homeless court.  If not, the homeless are on landlord-tenant, criminal, mental health, and even family court dockets.

Our polarized society struggles with dramatically different perspectives on how to respond to homelessness. One perspective is that courts are in the best position to refer the homeless to get help including housing assistance, employment counseling, food and clothing banks, public health clinics, mental health, and drug counseling, as well as access to justice. 

A countervailing perspective is that courts are not social service agencies.  If a homeless person is before the court, he or she is there because of a legal action: a crime, an eviction, or a probate mental health issue.  Courts should “stay in their lane” and just deal with the litigant’s legal matters.

Listen to the February 21, 2023, CLAPodcast Episode on your way to or from work. 39 Minutes 15 Seconds

Watch the February 21, 2023, CLAPodcast Episode 41 minutes 32 seconds

Become part of the conversation! Email us at CLAPodcasts@nacmnet.org

Today’s Panel

Judge Mary Logan has been practicing law for over 27 years as a licensed attorney in California and in Washington. As a Judge, she was elected Presiding Judge of the Spokane Municipal Court from 2009 through 2014. Among Logan’s many accomplishments, she is one of the “core engineers” of the City of Spokane’s Community Court and presides over the City’s Veteran’s Therapeutic Court. She has also been involved in the nationally recognized Street Law Program as an instructor at a local high school.

Barbara Marcille is the Trial Court Administrator for the Circuit Court in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, and manages approximately 330 employees across five court facilities with 58 courtrooms.  She has served in a variety of roles for the courts in Oregon, New Mexico, and North Carolina, and holds a degree in Business from Florida State University.  Prior to working with the court system she was Client Services Manager for a high-tech advertising agency in the Silicon Valley, and has combined that communications background with her commitment to public service to help the court improve access to justice.  For the last six years she has collaborated on the design and construction of a new 17-story courthouse on the Portland waterfront, and successfully completed the opening of that new courthouse in the midst of the 2020 pandemic. 

Alicia M. Skupin is the Presiding Magistrate for the Chandler Municipal Court.  She was appointed in 2021 after serving as an associate judge for 7 years.  She is a member of the Commission on Diversity, Equality, and Justice in the Judiciary; faculty member for the annual Limited Jurisdiction New Judge Orientation program; an editor for the Limited Jurisdiction Bench Book and was recently appointed to the Commission on Technology.  She also served on the AZ State Bar’s Criminal Jury Instructions Committee from 2006-2013.  Prior to joining the bench in Chandler, Judge Skupin was as a hearing officer for the Scottsdale City Court.   While in private practice, Judge Skupin volunteered with Los Abogados and served on its executive board for six years.  She received her Juris Doctorate from ASU in 2001.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Do You Want to Know More?

State of Homelessness 2022 Edition

Time Marker Sheet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s