The City of Houston Municipal Courts Administration Department reported that 33,081 delinquent cases were closed during the “2010 Great Texas Warrant Round-Up.” The program, which began March 6, 2010 and officially ended March 15, 2010, is being touted as the reason behind a record-breaking year for case closures and arrests for the City of Houston as compared to the previous three years of participation.
“The unified approach between Municipal Courts, the Houston Police Department, Harris County Constables and over 70 other Gulf Coast participants helped this initiative tremendously,” stated Chief Donald McKinney. “Having regional partnerships showed the effectiveness of a coordinated, multi-agency effort.”
After weeks of televised news reports and radio announcements to notify the public of the statewide initiative, many of Houston’s warranted public responded by coming forth early to handle their court matters. Unfortunately, not everyone heeded the warning, and for thousands, a trip to jail was not avoided.
“We offered a grace period from February 19, 2010 through March 5, 2010 in hopes that defendants would come to us voluntarily to pay their fines and/or to learn about their court cases,” said Sahira J. Abdool, Director & Chief Clerk of the Municipal Courts Administration Department. “We did everything we could to inform the public of what was to come and the various options available to them to handle court matters,” Abdool stated.
The threat of arrest remains in effect for defendants who did not take care of their delinquent case(s) and may still have active warrants pending against them.
“It is an unfortunate reality that our Courts must rely on the periodic intervention of law enforcement to assist us in resolving cases in warrant status. We make every effort to offer individuals various options and customer-driven services to facilitate the successful resolution of their court matters and to avoid arrest,” said Presiding Judge Berta A. Mejia, “I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the officers who participated in the Warrant Round-Up for their invaluable assistance.”
No amnesty was offered in conjunction with the Round-Up effort. The Office of the Chief Clerk provided the following statistics concerning the Warrant Round Up: