“We didn’t get into this backlog overnight and we certainly won’t be able to work our way out overnight,” Larry Basford, the State Attorney for the 14th Judicial Circuit said.
Basford said prosecutors are now working on 400 cases at a time.
COVID-19 wasn’t the only reason for delays in local courts.
“We had a backlog due to Hurricane Michael,” Basford said. “We were just about to get back on our feet and start moving the cases when along came the pandemic. And that was like a double whammy around here.”
He said the court generally has four Circuit Court felony judges, but has added another during trial weeks to expedite the case load.
“Things are much better than say it was last summer,” 14th Circuit Chief Judge Christopher Patterson said. “We have had an increase certainly in our criminal trials and our civil cases are moving at a much more rapid pace.”
Patterson said the 14th Circuit has restructured judges’ agendas to give them cases of their expertise.
“We’re not there, we think it’s a two-year effort to get us there but certainly after the first four months of this year, I think we’re in a great position to do even more much more better work,” Patterson said.