City of Florence Homeless Court

Published Oct 30, 2019

Homeless court will have its first session in the City of Florence on Thursday, October 31, 2019, 2:00pm, at the Courtney McGinnis Graham Community Shelter, 535 South Church Street.

The process to establish Florence’s homeless court began in November 2018. Florence Municipal Court Judge Debra Jackson sought assistance from George Cauthen, partner, and Blake Williams, associate, with Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.  The City collaborated with local homeless advocates such as the House of Hope, Lighthouse Ministries, and South Carolina Legal services who had already created a good structure for assisting homeless individuals that sought relief.

The City of Florence received approval from the Supreme Court of South Carolina to create a homeless court, and the order was signed on September 16, 2019. A homeless court committee was created and  composed of Solicitor Ed Clements; Public Defender Scott Floyd; Commander Anson Shells of the Florence City Police Department; as well as local homeless shelter directors, homeless advocates, and  service providers.  This committee held several meetings, and continued legal education on homeless courts to include two site visits to the original South Carolina Homeless Court.

Homeless courts provide an incentive for homeless people who have pending criminal charges to seek treatment from a service provider and demonstrate a change of course. If they meet their goals, they may apply to the homeless court and have pending criminal charges dismissed and sometimes prior convictions reopened and dismissed. The charges are limited to misdemeanors and have other limitations. The South Carolina homeless courts have successfully cleared up the records of many homeless people, who have gone on to obtain jobs and stable housing that a criminal record would not have allowed.