Heavy Caseloads In Elmore Co. Lead To Long Waits In Courtroom

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By Catalina Trivino

When it comes to criminal cases in Elmore County, District Attorney, Randall Houston says he's seen more violent crimes this year than ever. As those cases pile up, for some that could mean a longer wait in the courtroom.

Elmore County's arraignment docket had 109 defendants in the courtroom. That's not including their loved-ones who came to support them. The clerk's office says that's about 200 people total. A courtroom so full, many people were left standing and waiting for hours to fill out paper work before the judge could begin court.

"It was a mad house in there, there were so many people!" Said Janie Purcell.

Purcell and her grandson walked out of the courtroom an hour and half later. District Attorney, Randall Houston, says  it's because more people than ever live in Elmore County.

"Moving into Elmore County, as our population grows, of course, with more people comes more crime. And we are a very nice bedroom community of Montgomery, so we also attract a lot of Montgomery criminals," Said Houston.

With Elmore County's population of about 80,000, there have been 892 district criminal cases so far this year; there have been 250 circuit criminal cases.

"We strive to get people in and out as quickly as possible, however as you have as many people as you saw earlier, between 1 and 200 people in the courtroom, it just takes a while to get to everybody," Said Circuit Clerk, Brian Justiss.

Carla Long says she waited nearly two hours to get called in the courtroom -- with three courtrooms in session, she says there's no excuse.    

"But if that's the case then I'm saying there should be more courtrooms opened, more judges available," Said Long.

The clerk's office and the DA's office say they're trying to process these cases as efficiently as possible. They're just asking people to be patient with the court system.

There may be longer waits ahead. The circuit clerk's office and the DA's office say July and December will have the most cases -- most of them felonies.

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