Local News

State Lawmakers Examine Wake Courtroom Crowding

Posted March 28, 2005 1:08 a.m. EST

— State lawmakers took a tour of the Wake County Courthouse Monday to get an idea of just how crowded the courts are.

A group of lawmakers is supporting a bill that would add two new judges to Wake County's District Court bench to alleviate crowding in the district court system, which last year handled 185,000 cases.

Judge Joyce Hamilton is one of the judges who deals with the crowds in courtrooms where as many as 1,500 cases a day can be set in one courtroom alone.

"We really need new judges in Wake County," Hamilton said. "We need them now. If we don't get them, things will get worse as our population continues to increase at a dramatic pace."

The bill asks for little more than $200,000 to create the positions the first year and close to $250,000 in the second year.

"The biggest concern I have is that we potentially dismiss cases like drunk drivers who should be behind bars or get their due punishment because we can't try cases," said Sen. Janet Cowell, D-Wake County. "We need more people so we can get justice in Wake County taken care of."

Other fixes in the works include moving the busiest courtroom to the first floor to keep people from jamming up the elevators. Another suggestion is to open four new courtrooms on the second floor of the old jail.