San Francisco opened a community court this week, with a judge, prosecutors, and public defenders. The only thing missing was defendants, says the San Francisco Chronicle. None of the five people arrested over the past week and assigned to come to court showed up. Still, it was progress for the controversial court, proposed by Mayor Gavin Newsom after a 2007 trip to a similar court in New York City. Back then, he said the San Francisco version would be up and running within months. Two years later – after fierce resistance from homeless advocates, the Board of Supervisors and even city voters – the court is open, and its first cases were scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
The no-shows were disappointing but typical. Commissioner Ron Albers said up to 80 percent of people cited in San Francisco for low-level crimes – such as buying drugs and breaking into cars – fail to appear in court.