The Indian River County court system has become a victim of many felony cases that have not been dealt with since 2012. The pandemic may be to blame for quite a large part of the redundancy. The jury trials were completely shut down during the rise of Covid, and the courts were unable to go through the due process required of a competent judicial system. A judicial system needs to be stable and sufficient for the country to run smoothly, which can only lead to this being defined as a crisis.
Since 2012, about 1,800 cases have been pending, awaiting the required due process for the appropriate decision. These felony cases do not consider juvenile felonies. Apart from that, there are countless variations of cases that this statistic does not include. These cases were stopped entirely because of the pandemic, which just made the number increase every day. Not only is this slowing the courts down, but the quality of the decisions is not up to par as well.
An example of the overflow of cases lies in the area of a circuit judge named Dan Vaughn. This circuit judge has over 500 of these 1,800 cases in his custody. This is a solid specimen of judges being overworked and putting in the hours to get rid of this situation.
In addition to that, a retired judge, Judge Morgan, plans to come back to the judiciary because he believes that Judge Vaughn needs all the help he can get.
An example of some instances going on for much longer than they were supposed to be the case of Ira Hatch. This was a case dealing with fraudulent circumstances, and it is known to go on for at least 18 weeks. This time consumption is not helping the number of cases growing every day.
The lagging in the procedure is also adding to the issue. It takes quite some time to bring a case to trial. Once it does come to trial, the lengthy process of negotiating plea deals begins. Furthermore, it is imperative to consider that these plea deals may result in people proving to be innocent. This means that the judges have to take their time and give their full attention to the hearing. According to criminal defense attorney William Umansky, “Speeding up the process for the sake of speeding up the process is not a luxury that a justice system retains.”
On the other hand, dropping charges and letting criminals roam free to clear out the number of cases is shoddy work that people in the court are not used to.
Another solution that can help this problem is bringing back retired state employees. However, this is easier than said, as the statute does not allow the courts to do so. These public defenders are experienced in their line of work and can bring about a substantial change.