Local News

Wake County Courtrooms Packed; Judges Overloaded

Posted January 16, 2008 11:09 p.m. EST
Updated January 17, 2008 7:48 a.m. EST

— One of the busiest court systems in the state is struggling to keep up with the growing number of cases. A Wake County district judge says more jurists are needed, but his calls for help might not be answered .

The docket for Thursday afternoon listed more than 117 cases in one courtroom. According to Chief District Judge Robert B. Rader, that is considered a light load.

"Some days, it is just more cases than we can handle with the number of judges we've got," defense attorney Bill Young said.

Last year, more than 230,000 cases were filed in Wake County, and the court system is struggling to keep up.

"Since cases that need to be tried cannot get reached on busy days ... they keep getting continued and continued and they end up on the same day as the new cases and you end up with a scene," Rader said.

Judges say they are forced to do more with less these days.

"If you have 280 cases on a calendar, where you have four hours or 240 minutes, then you have allocated less than a minute per case," Rader said.

Many cases are serious offenses, like drunk driving. Rader said Wake County needs more judges and that will not happen without legislative approval.

Two new judges have recently been approved, but Rader said more are desperately needed.

One of the new judges was scheduled to be appointed this month. The other will not be appointed until January of next year.

In the meantime, Rader said they are looking into options for limiting the number of cases per day.