TAMPA — In a continued effort to crack down on repeat code violators and aggressive panhandlers, the city announced Wednesday it had gotten the Hillsborough County court system to streamline the hearing process for certain criminal and civil violations.
Criminal code enforcement violations, for flagrant or repeat violators, will all be heard the same day by the same county judge. Civil infractions like open containers of alcohol or noise violations also will be grouped together before another county judge.
The cases previously were split up among several judges, and the new system will hopefully lead to more attention being paid to violators, according to Assistant City Attorney Ernie Mueller.
"It's going to put all of our cases in one courtroom on one day," he said. "They'll (judges) be better able to focus on them, so they'll get more attention."
The city's Code Enforcement Board will still hear cases that don't rise to the level of criminal infractions.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn released a written statement: "The special municipal dockets are a commonsense solution that will hopefully expedite how quickly the court can process code enforcement and aggressive panhandling, among other issues."
The schedule starts to go into place Sept. 11, when Judge James Dominguez will hear all criminal code enforcement violations. Judge Richard Weis will hear all civil violations beginning Oct. 3.