A new court at Hennepin County District Court will begin on Feb. 1 and will be known as Restorative Court.

With the new court, Hennepin County social workers will assist participants by connecting them with mental health services, addiction services, health care, housing supports and other services, such as helping a participant obtain an ID. If a participant already receives social services, they are reconnected to those services and workers.

The process for the new court involves minimal judicial and probationary resources. Attorneys will refer their clients from their first court appearances to the Restorative Court pretrial calendar if they met eligibility requirements. Charges other than domestic assault or domestic-related offenses, firearm offenses, driving while intoxicated offenses, indecent exposure offenses, or prostitution-related offenses are eligible. 

At the pretrial calendar, the clients will meet a social worker for a full screening. If a client is eligible and agrees to participate, the next court date will be set a few months later. The participant will then meet in the community with the social worker and specific providers to address social service needs. If the participant cooperates with these services before returning to court, the criminal case will be resolved favorably and without probation resources being added.

Restorative Court will continue the work of programs in HOMES and Community Court. Those two court programs will end on Jan. 31. The current participants will complete HOMES before that date or be moved into Restorative Court to continue working with the appropriate service providers. Community Court participants who are active as of that date will be transferred to Restorative Court. It will include some defendants charged by the Minneapolis City Attorney.

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