Specialty Courts involve initiatives that seek to address the root causes of problems that contribute to persons being involved in the criminal justice systems. The City of Birmingham has the following specialized courts and program:
- The Environmental Court has total responsibility for cases in which defendants and businesses have failed to comply with the city ordinances pertaining to premises being free of garbage, junk cars and disabled vehicles, to name a few. Since the inception, this court has enriched the quality of life for all citizens.
- The Court Referral Program provides for the early identification of defendants who have been convicted of alcohol or drug related charges.The Court Referral Officer conducts evaluations, monitoring and drug testing defendants. This program works closely with drug and gun court.
- The Birmingham Municipal Adult Drug Treatment Court is judicially supervised court dockets that handle the cases of non-violent substance abusing offenders under the adults, juvenile, family and tribal justice systems. Drug Court operate under a specialized model in which the judiciary, prosecution, defense bar, probation, law enforcement, mental health, social service and treatment communities work together to help non-violent offenders find restoration in recovery and become productive citizens. Enhanced Drug Court provides a comprehensive substance abuse treatment/recovery services to non-violent misdemeanor offenders with a substance abuse charge and/or with co-occurring disorders. We have partnered with Aletheia House to build on the basic Drug Court model and added mental health treatment, housing and lifestyle training. The Birmingham Municipal Gun Court designed for adults who have committed gun offenses that have not resulted in serious physical injury. Gun Court focuses on educating defendants about gun safety and provides an infrastructure for direct and immediate responses to defendants who violate court orders. By consolidating all gun cases into one court docket, the assets needed for prompt adjudication of these offenses and the coordination of efforts by numerous agencies and non-profit organizations in reducing the number of illegal guns on the streets are improved. We have seen a tremendous benefit from this program. Enhanced II Gun Court combines the Drug Court and Gun Court model for those individuals who have both issues. This court consists of four phases; Phase I, Acquaint and Immerse; Phase II, Independence and Mastery-Life Skills; Phase III, Life Skills and Community Service; Phase IV, Aftercare.
- The Birmingham Municipal Domestic Violence Court provides comprehensive victim safety and offender accountability in cases of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking through arrest policies and enforcement of Protection Orders. Birmingham’s Criminal Justice System has implemented pro-arrest policies as an effective intervention that is part of a coordinated community response, partnering with HICA that provides a Court Advocate. The Domestic Violence Court improves victim’s safety and his/her participation in the prosecutorial process. The prompt and effective provision of legal assistance is of paramount importance to safe guard the safety and mental stability of those involved in domestic violence. If you need help or additional information, go to acadv.org – Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence or call Alabama’s Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-650-6522. Help is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you live in another state, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY for the Deaf: 1-800-787-3224
- The Driving While Intoxicated Court (DWI) sometimes called DUI Court, is substance-abuse interventions and treatment with defendants who plead guilty of driving while intoxicated or impaired. It follows the Accountability Court Model of frequent court visits, mandatory screens, incentives and sanctions lasts a minimum of one year.
- The Veterans Treatment Court is a “special court” which is charged with trying cases of minor offenses which involve veterans of militaries such as the United States Armed Forces, particularly those diagnosed with service related illnesses. The first Veteran’s Court was established in 2007 in Buffalo, New York, and was used as the model for the establishment of our Veterans’ Court.
- The Bilingual Court is a special docket wherein we have interpreters for the Judge, prosecution and defendant as well as a defense counsel and probation officer who are fluent in Spanish. It should be noted that we have interpreters for other languages as well.
- Curfew Violation Program in conjunction with Judicial Corrections Services has developed a special program to address this issue. A workbook has been developed and the parent or guardian is required to cooperate with Court ordered activities. The intent is to determine if there are any significant issues within the home and to offer resources to address them.
- Turning Point Court sometimes referred to as Homeless Court, is a collaboration between local non-profit, social service agencies and local attorneys to assist homeless citizens within the City of Birmingham and surrounding areas transition back into society. The Turning Point Court seeks to help resolve the problems that homelessness represents with practical and effective solutions. We aim to assist homeless participants clear tickets and warrants for offenses such as minor traffic violations and misdemeanors. We believe that when homeless participants work with agency representatives to identify and overcome the causes of their homelessness, they are in a stronger position to successfully comply with Court Orders. “Bringing the law to the streets, the Court to shelters, and the homeless back into society” is our goal.