Shortage of prosecutors, judges leads to widespread court backlogs – Stateline

Still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, court systems in many states are working to clear their case backlogs.

Some court systems have moved cases faster using virtual court proceedings, court data dashboards and online jury selection. In other states, lawmakers are stepping in.

The pandemic worsened problems that already had caused state and local court delays, legal experts say. The hurdles include insufficient funding, judicial vacancies, lawyer shortages and delays processing digital and physical evidence.

Some state legislators are particularly focused on shortages of prosecutors and judges. In Georgia, New York and Vermont, for example, lawmakers have filed or plan to offer bills that would increase prosecutor pay, boost the number of judges or streamline procedures to reduce the number of cases.

Full story: Shortage of prosecutors, judges leads to widespread court backlogs – Stateline

4 Replies to “Shortage of prosecutors, judges leads to widespread court backlogs – Stateline”

  1. While Covid-19 is absolutely responsible for an increased backlog of criminal cases, court officials shouldn’t hide behind that excuse when looking at the clear systematic problems that allow said backlog to fester. We can’t be surprised by a shortage of prosecutors when the pay for these positions, especially in rural areas, is simply not competitive enough. In 2021, there was a 43.5% turnover rate for prosecutor positions in Georgia; this compounded with the fact that there can only be one assistant district attorney per judge in each judicial district and it’s easy to see why that state is struggling so much. Obviously, higher compensation is necessary here to keep these positions filled, but how urgently can those changes be made? How long will the backlog continue to pile up? Can victims feel whole with their criminal cases sitting dormant and seemingly no one to help, or is this simply the reality of the situation following a global pandemic?

    1. While the nature of this issue is due to Covid-19, I believe from a constitutional standpoint we need to also consider the issue of due process and a speedy trial. Under the constitution, we are given the right to a speedy trial as per the 6th amendment. With a lack of prosecutors, and a large backlog of cases, these individuals are getting quite the opposite. It is also a good point to bring up the victims, as there are criminals who might be guilty with a heap of evidence against them, yet they are not facing any consequences yet due to the lack of prosecutors and the enormous backlog of cases. Without addressing this issue, both the rights of victims and the accused are being tampered with, and possibly violated.

      1. I agree that we have to focus not only on the defendant’s rights but also the victim’s rights as well. They are caught up in the backlog just as everyone else is. Their rights are being violated in the same manner. However, if you think about it, there is absolutely nothing they can do about it. If they take to court the fact that their Constitutional rights are being violated, it will just be added to the backlog of that court as well. The position that we are in as a nation right now is a very sticky one. It will take a lot of movement in both state and federal governments to change the cycle we are in. Covid definitely played a role in getting us on this sticky track but what can we do to change it? What can be done before people get to the courts whether they are defendants, victims, future prosecutors or judges?

  2. Covid-19 has disrupted lives in every way possible affecting everyone in one way or another. Including prisoners, court proceedings were pushed back there was an incline in worsening conditions among prison buildings, insufficient funding, judicial vacancies, and lawyers shortages. Although some solutions were found such as online court proceedings, not all trial cases can be executed as such for example criminal trials. Potential consequences/ implications arising from such issues are lack of communication denying victims then finding themselves in situations where they are found handling the on their own. The shortage of prosecutors can then be found in overworking the employed ones which can cause high levels of stress, having them rethink the position and possibly quitting the job. Causing more setbacks in the system that already is flawed in different aspects.

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