What we do
The purpose of the Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) is to improve quality of life with and for all residents in the downtown Austin community through timely, rehabilitative sentencing. The court seeks to hold offenders responsible while also offering help to change behavior.
Most of the offenses adjudicated--or legally settled--through the court are committed by defendants who are experiencing homelessness, and a disproportionate number of offenses are committed by a small number of defendants. The court works with these defendants by applying a comprehensive and intensive case management model. This helps them work toward permanent stability and reduces costs for all support systems. The court’s projected annual caseload is approximately 12,000.
The court was established in 1999 as the eighth community court in the United States and the first in Texas. Community courts are small, problem-solving courts focused on public order issues. you can learn more about community courts at the Center for Court Innovation.
You can learn more about programs at DACC such as intensive case management and community service restitution.
The court handles public order offenses committed within the downtown, East Austin, and West Campus areas. You can view a detailed map of the court’s jurisdiction (PDF, 2.7 MB) or use this interactive jurisdiction web map to learn more about various courts' local jurisdictions.
Share your feedback about the Downtown Austin Community Court with us by completing this online form.
Changes due to Covid-19
The Downtown Austin Community Court currently remains open for social services only. The court and community service operations will reopen on the same schedule as the Austin Municipal Court. The DACC’s intensive and triage case managers are still available to individuals experiencing homelessness. Controlled access to the court’s facility is being implemented in order to meet Austin Public Health’s social distancing recommendations, which means you may experience longer wait times. We apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
The DACC Community Service Program will not be operating from Sunday, March 15, 2020 through Sunday, October 4, 2020.
Cases that are set on dockets will be rescheduled on or after October 26, 2020. Defendants will be notified by mail of their new court dates. Defendants may still contact the court online, by email, and by phone to get information and handle their cases. Options are available that do not require a personal appearance.
All due dates on pending cases are extended until October 12, 2020.
Downtown Austin Community Court Case Management aims to end homelessness by providing comprehensive, long-term services to individuals experiencing homelessness.
Judge Michael A. Coffey
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.
Peter Valdez, LMSW
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.
Robert 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. Robert holds a B.S. in Health and Human Performance and a M.S. in Health Promotion from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
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.
Jennifer Sowinski, LCSW-S
As 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.