The Social Justice Night Court (SJNC) is a joint project of the Webb County’s Board of Judges, the local Bar Associations, and Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRLA). The purpose of the Social Justice Night Court is to provide representation for indigent persons residing in Webb County who need assistance with uncontested legal matters.
The Social Justice Night Court opened for business in 2003 after it obtained the unanimous support of all the judges in Webb County. Currently there are five judges who take turns in presiding over the night court:
District Court Judges
- Honorable Elma Teresa Salinas Ender
- Honorable Oscar J. Hale, Jr.
- Honorable Joe Lopez
County Court Judges
- Honorable Albino “Ben” Morales
- Honorable Jesus “Chuy” Garza
Since its beginning, Laredo’s local bar associations (The Laredo-Webb County Bar Association, Laredo Young Lawyers Association, Webb County Women’s Bar Association) have embraced the Night Court in order to fulfill their pro bono requirements and to further their mission to make sure all of Laredo’s citizens have access to the justice system.
The Night Court takes the following types of cases:
- Uncontested divorces
- Adoptions, after biological parents have signed relinquishments
- Uncontested custody cases
- Uncontested guardianships
- Name changes
- Declaration of heirships
- Powers of attorney
- Occupational licenses.
The SJNC is held regularly on the second Tuesday of every month.
The Night Court is staffed by judges, attorneys, court reporters, interpreters, bailiffs, legal secretaries, notaries public and representatives of both the County and District Clerk’s office, all participating on a volunteer basis.
The SJNC offers a complete and quality legal experience for those it serves. Clients generally meet their attorney and have initial pleadings drafted and filed all on their first time at Night Court. In most cases, after all documents are complete, clients return to the clinic for a brief court hearing to finalize their case and leave with certified copies of the final papers.
In order to be evaluated for assistance, you must call the Texas RioGrande Legal Aid hotline. They will help you with the intake and screening process to determine whether you qualify.
To qualify you must be a resident of Webb County and meet federal poverty income and asset eligibility guidelines.
If you qualify you will then go to Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid’s Laredo office where the Social Justice Night Court Coordinator will prepare your paper work and explain the process of night court.
Call (956) 718-4683
The program does not accept criminal cases and clients must meet federal poverty income and asset eligibility guidelines.
If you are an attorney in Webb County and would like to learn more about becoming involved in the Social Justice Night Court, please contact a local bar official or Mrs. Rosalinda Arce, Social Justice Night Court Coordinator, at (956) 718-4610.