In April Pierce County Superior Court launched an effort to address the persistent backlog of cases that has contributed to overcrowding – and, according to some County Council members – overspending at the jail.
The effort – conceived by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office – involves assigning four judges and eight deputy prosecutors to the most serious "special assault" cases, including first-degree rapes and first-degree child assaults. Less serious special assault cases are funneled through another team of prosecutors who try to resolve them short of trial.
It’s only been six weeks, but early results look promising. Deputy Prosecutor Mark Lindquist informed council representatives yesterday that the backlog has been reduced from 2,146 pending cases to 2,011 as of the end of May.
You can read more about the effort to reduce the backlog here. Below is Lindquist’s e-mail summarizing the progress to date.
Here are the numbers from the first six weeks of our plan to reduce the backlog with the SAU pilot project. This is only the beginning, of course, and I don’t want to put too much emphasis on the first few weeks, but it is a strong start that supports our basic premise: make courtrooms available and we can resolve cases.
The SAU project officially started on April 20th, when the backlog was at 2,146 pending cases. At the end of May we were at 2,011, down 130+ cases since we started.
For the month of May it appears that we’ve gone from 2,118 to 2011 for a reduction of over 100 cases. This makes May 2009 the first month since July 2008 where we will meet the “court goal” of reducing the backlog by 40+ cases per month.
As you know, our goal is to reduce the backlog an average of 50 cases per month so we can be down around 1500 or better by April 2010. With continued cooperation of the judges, this is realistic.
Below I’ve pasted the raw numbers from Sara Fleck:
Here’s what I have:
(Pending Criminal Cases)
Chief Criminal Deputy
Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney