Two very different programs with the same goal of keeping people out of court were announced in North Carolina this week.
Durham County has one of the state’s highest levels of eviction filings, with approximately 900 cases filed each month. Eviction cases are stressful for tenants and costly for landlords. A new program co-sponsored by Legal Aid of North Carolina, Duke University’s Civil Justice Clinic, and the Durham County Department of Social Services is aiming to reduce eviction filings by guiding affected tenants to legal and financial assistance programs. The hope is that tenants will be able to remain in their homes, landlords will be paid the rent owed, and the courts will not be clogged with cases that might well be amenable to extrajudicial resolution.
In Buncombe County, local prosecutors have developed their own program to reduce the need for drivers to come to court to challenge or pay speeding tickets. Drivers caught going 15 miles or less over the speed limit would have the option of paying their fine or even negotiating for reduced points online. The district attorney behind the program estimated that 2000 people per day crowd the courthouse to appear before a magistrate for speeding fines.