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Downtown Community Court

About Community Court

The Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) was established in 1999. It was the eighth community court established in the United States, and the first established in Texas.

The purpose of the Downtown Austin Community Court is to collaboratively address the quality of life issues of all residents in the downtown Austin community through the swift, creative sentencing of public order offenders.

The court operates as a problem solving and rehabilitative court and provides referrals to supportive services for offenders. A majority of the offenses adjudicated through DACC are committed by defendants who are homeless, and a disproportionate number of offenses are committed by a small number of defendants who cycle through the criminal justice system at a high cost to all community services systems.

What is Community Court?

The purpose of the Downtown Austin Community Court is to administer justice equitably and compassionately to foster trust and accountability, and to utilize a client-centered and housing-focused intensive case management model to help individuals experiencing homelessness achieve long-term stability.


DACC is contributing to the accountability, fairness, equity, impartiality, and transparency of justice processes for residents that engage with the Community Court.  DACC works to expedite court cases by offering alternative forms of adjudication in lieu of monetary penalties, for those not able to pay, in order to avoid incarceration or additional penalties.  For individuals experiencing homelessness, these alternative forms of adjudication can include participating in Intensive Case Management Services to obtain identification documentation, sign up for public benefits they qualify for, complete a Coordinated Assessment, and/or participate in social services that meet their needs. 

Outside of the court processes, DACC also assists individuals experiencing homelessness who request assistance, and DACC accepts referrals coming directly from the Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) for individuals in need of ongoing case management and support.  DACC seeks to build strong partnerships with community stakeholders in order to meet the needs of its priority population while also collaborating with the individuals it serves and utilizing their perspectives in ongoing program and service improvements.


What kind of offenses does the court adjudicate?

Community Court initially focused on the downtown area; 44% of public order offenses committed in Austin occurred in this area. After successfully handling of the downtown area, the city added East Austin and the West Campus area to the Community Court's jurisdiction.

Annual projected caseload for the Court is approximately 12,000.

Organizational Chart


Who We Are

Profiles of the Community Court staff, dedicated to improving lives.

Associate Municipal Court Judge Michael Coffey

Judge Michael A. Coffey, born in Austin, is the full-time judge at the Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC)

Judge Coffey took over the court full-time in December 2002 when Judge Elizabeth Earle, the first permanent judge at the DACC, resigned to take over as judge in Travis County Court at Law Seven. Judge Coffey attended the University of Texas, Southwest Texas State University and Texas Tech University respectively, for bachelors' (economics & finance), masters (counseling) and doctor of jurisprudence (law) degrees. Judge Coffey is a certified public accountant, and prior to law school, worked in financial accounting and tax law for six years.

Out of law school, he worked as a prosecutor in Williamson County for three years, and then practiced as a criminal defense attorney in Travis and Williamson counties for eight years, including a two year stint at the Travis County Juvenile Public Defender's Office, before taking the bench as an associate municipal court judge. The judge lives and works in Austin and plays softball wherever he happens to be.

Court Administrator Peter Valdez

Peter ValdezPeter Valdez, LMSW, is the Court Administrator of the Downtown Austin Community Court, a therapeutic jurisprudence court model implemented in October 1999 to address the Quality of Life and Public Order Offenses occurring in the Downtown Austin area. 

To address the aforementioned issues, the court, under Peter’s direction,  has identified a priority population of defendants that repeatedly commit crime within the court’s jurisdiction and engage these individuals by applying a comprehensive and intensive case management model that helps the repeat offenders to work toward permanent stability. Peter moved to Austin in the fall of 2000, and began his employment with the court as a case manager.  Two years later, Peter became the deputy court administrator responsible for the supervision of the court’s operations, case management and community service teams.  Prior to moving to Austin, Peter resided in Las Cruces, New Mexico where he worked as a child/adolescent and crisis therapist in a community mental health agency. While in Las Cruces, Peter also facilitated court-mandated men's groups with La Casa, Inc., a program for domestic violence victims and their families. Peter has also served as a field instructor and supervisor for student interns from the University of Texas-Austin, St. Edwards University, and Texas State University. Peter is a current member of the Texas Municipal Courts Association, Texas Court Clerks Association, the National Association for Court Management, the National Association for Social Workers (NASW) and the Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable Planning Council.  Peter is also a member of Travis County’s Behavioral Health Advisory Committee, Travis County’s Substance Use Planning Leadership Team and a member of Travis County’s Substance Use Community Advisory Team.

Deputy City Attorney Deborah Thomas

Deborah ThomasDeborah Thomas serves as the Deputy City Attorney. Deborah’s area of expertise is land use law.  She works closely with city departments such as Planning & Development Review, Watershed Protection, Transportation, Capital Contracting Office, Parks, Austin Resource Recovery, and Neighborhood Housing and Community Development.

Deborah received a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Planning and Administration from the Pennsylvania State University and a Masters degree in Health Administration from the University of Texas School of Public Health. Deborah received her law degree from The University of Houston Law Center. 

Deborah worked as a hearings examiner for the Texas Water Commission (now the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) from 1989 to 1994 and in 1994 went to work for the City of Austin Law Department.  Deborah’s area of expertise is land use law.  She works closely with city departments such as Planning & Development Review, Watershed Protection, Transportation, Capital Contracting Office, Parks, Austin Resource Recovery, and Neighborhood Housing and Community Development.

Court Operations Manager Robert Kingham

Robert KinghamRobert has worked for the City of Austin since 2010.  He came over to the Downtown Austin Community Court from Austin Public Health in 2017 where he serves as the Court Operations Manager.  In this role, Robert is responsible for managing the administrative and clerical operations of the Court and the Community Services Restitution program, as well as administering a portion of the City of Austin’s social service investment portfolio.  These social service investments are intended to address quality of life issues, promote healthy living and support self-sufficiency of individuals in the downtown, West Campus and East Austin communities.

Robert believes government can and should effectively leverage its resources by collaborating with community stakeholders serving vulnerable individuals and families to reduce historical inequities and disproportionate health outcomes. Robert has directly administered over $200,000,000 in local, state and federal funding to community based organizations working directly with marginalized communities and addressing the social determinants of health since he began his career with the City of Austin.  He was responsible for expanding the City’s social service issue areas to include Health Equity, which funds programs specifically designed for populations experiencing significant health disparities such as immigrants, LGBTQI individuals, senior citizens and minorities.


Court Field Supervisor Jeremy Myers

Jeremy Myers has been employed with the city since 2007. He supervises five crew leaders overseeing a variety of community service operations throughout the city.

Jeremy maintains a positive working environment and relationship with other city departments. He is a veteran, having proudly served in the United States Marine Corp (USMC). He is married and has three children and enjoys sports, hunting, fishing, camping and spending time with his family. 

Clinical Operations Manager Jennifer

JenniferAs the Clinical Operations Manager, Jennifer oversees the social services delivered to clients, implements best practices, and provides direction to a staff of ten Licensed Master Clinical Counselors who work to engage and house the homeless population in the downtown area. Jennifer is a Licensed Clinical Social Work-Supervisor who has been with the Downtown Austin Community Court since 2015

Jennifer believes developing strong relationships is the foundation for providing effective services. The Downtown Austin Community Court Case Management team aims to end homelessness by providing comprehensive, long-term services to individuals experiencing homelessness by promoting success through creative solutions.  Our services include street outreach, navigation, intensive case management and coordination with other providers.

As a licensed Clinical Supervisor in the State of Texas, Jennifer is also able to provide required supervision to case management staff working toward their master’s level clinical certification.

Jennifer holds a B.S. from Purdue University - Northwest in Political Science and a MSSW from the University of Texas – Austin in Social Work.


Mission Statement

Downtown Austin Community Court Case Management aims to end homelessness by providing comprehensive, long term services to individuals experiencing homelessness.

Vision Statement

Promoting success through creative solutions.