Municipal Court Judge Derek Mosley meets with an attendee of the Success Starts Here! Men's Seminar, hosted by United Way and ManpowerGroup.
October 16, 2018
For many people, going to court - even to settle a parking violation - can be incredibly intimidating.
On any Monday through Friday during walk-in hours, people may come to Milwaukee Municipal Court without a scheduled hearing and see a judge. Unfortunately, many people do not do this for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is fear of being arrested. While people in Milwaukee are never arrested for municipal violations, this is not widely known.
Another reason people avoid dealing with a municipal violation is lack of funds to pay a fine in full right away.
The consequences of avoiding dealing with a municipal violation can run deep. Having an outstanding warrant on your record or a suspended driver’s license can make it very difficult to find employment and housing.
In response, Milwaukee Municipal Court has started Warrant Withdrawal Wednesdays to engage people who have outstanding warrants and/or driver’s license suspensions. The events are held at community locations like Greater New Birth Church and Journey House with the hope that individuals will feel more comfortable taking the first steps to deal with a warrant at a neutral location rather than at the courthouse.
“We bring court into the community as an opportunity for people to engage with the court in a venue that is perceived as less threatening to some and might be closer to home for people attending,” said Sheldyn Himle, Milwaukee Municipal Court chief court administrator.
At Warrant Withdrawal Wednesday events, Municipal Court Judges meet individually with defendants to discuss their specific situation. If a person cannot pay their fine right away, they may be put on a payment plan or held accountable for the debt in another way, like through a community service requirement, alcohol or drug addiction program, or credit for time served. Each event also features a variety of community resources that residents can learn about while they wait.
The Municipal Court provided warrant withdrawal at September’s Success Starts Here! Men’s Seminar and will also be present at Thursday’s Project Homeless Connect. United Way recognizes the importance of these services as having a warrant is a barrier to employment, housing, and financial stability- all building blocks for a good quality of life.
For more information on the next Warrant Withdrawal Wednesday event, follow Milwaukee Municipal Court on Facebook. The date and location is typically announced several weeks ahead of time, and those who want to attend can call to register.
Volunteers are also needed to help facilitate the event. “This is a great, unique volunteer opportunity - lots of talking, no heavy lifting, and a chance to experience the joy of people who are honestly thrilled at the opportunity to take care of something that fell off their radar or wasn’t previously a priority to address,” said Sheldyn.
For more information and to sign up to volunteer, email Sheldyn at SHimle@Milwaukee.gov.
It is important to note that the intent of Warrant Withdrawal Wednesdays is to re-engage people with the Court, not to forgive fines, but to work through resolving the debt in some way.
For those with a violation who are not eligible to participate in Warrant Withdrawal Wednesdays, Sheldyn has an important message: “Come on in to the Municipal Court! It doesn’t have to be scary – these are non-criminal violations. Our staff understand that these are ordinary, everyday things that any of us could run into. We are helpful, friendly, and customer service focused, but we can’t help you if you don’t come in and talk to us.”