LINCOLN–For years, night court has taken place across the country in areas such as New York and California. One local court hosted its first night court last month as a way to provide better access to the court system.
The first of two planned night court sessions in Lancaster County Court took place on the evening of May 30 with the second session scheduled June 27.
According to the State of Nebraska Judicial Branch, the Lancaster County Court planned these sessions to “provide greater access to the justice system to those individuals that cannot miss work to attend regular court sessions without risking terminations of their employment” and will also provide another opportunity for “individuals that watch children during regular business hours” to attend court.
The cases being handled during night court are misdemeanor non-custody cases, misdemeanor warrants and pleas, felony non-custody docket calls or preliminary hearing waivers in felony cases and felony non-custody matters where the defendants will be pleading to charges that are being reduced to misdemeanor offenses.
As people gathered for the first session on May 30, Lancaster County Court Judge Timothy Phillips said that he hopes increased self-promoting during the weeks leading up to the next session will help “bring in more people.”
Even with a small crowd May 30, Lancaster County Public Defender Paul Cooney said that he thinks the evening court session is valuable and would like to see it tried for a few months.
“Tonight was not a fair representation of its usefulness,” he said.
To help decide if the night court will continue, Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon said, “We will talk with the court and see what kind of response we receive.”
On June 27, the night court will be held on the second floor of the Lancaster County Courthouse in Courtroom No. 24 from 4:30 to 7 p.m.
For more information about the night court, visit the Supreme Court State of Nebraska website, https://supremecourt.nebraska.