Court Navigator Pilot Program Launches at Buncombe County Courthouse

As part of a widespread effort to reduce instances of missed court dates and offer more support to justice-impacted individuals, Buncombe County Justice Services is launching a Court Navigator pilot program.

Justice Services is happy to welcome Betsy Chavez to the Court Navigator role. Chavez is bilingual (fluent in Spanish and English) and will serve as that first point of contact for courthouse visitors and provide immediate and direct assistance and customer service. The pilot program strives to help reduce failure to appear charges by helping connect people to the court reminder notification program and will be based at an information kiosk in the main lobby of the Buncombe County Courthouse. The Court Navigator can provide:

  • Directions/wayfinding to assist people in getting where they need to go in the building
  • Help people sign up for an automated court reminder system
  • Linkage/referrals to justice system and/or community resources for supportive services such as the Justice Resource Center

“The innovative Court Navigation Program can challenge the barriers of access to our Court System,” notes District Court Judge Honorable Julie M. Kepple. “Many folks that walk through our courthouse doors experience anxiety, fear, concern and even trauma. Just trying to find the right courtroom or juggling multiple court dates can be stressful and overwhelming. A trained Courthouse Navigator can intervene by providing a more user-friendly approach to navigating our courts.”

This pilot program is funded by the Safety and Justice Challenge and is contracted through Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina. Through collaboration with the Justice Resource Center, Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office, and Judicial Branch partners, the Court Navigator can help address initial needs for court appearances. “More than 9,000 individuals have entered the Buncombe County courthouse so far in 2023,” says Buncombe County Sheriff Miller. “We know navigating the criminal justice system can be very challenging, but this new position will make a difference and assist our deputies in better serving our community as they conduct business and go to court.”

For help in the courthouse, individuals can find the kiosk in the lobby, or contact the Justice Resource Center at (828) 250-6401. Sign up for automated court date reminders at